The Basilica of St. Euphemius

© Isola Comacina - COMCEPT
© Isola Comacina - COMCEPT
© Isola Comacina - COMCEPT
© Isola Comacina - COMCEPT
© Isola Comacina - COMCEPT

Discovery

The remains you see here were part of the Church built in 1031 by Litigerius, bishop of Como. It was demolished by the city of Como in 1169 (historical sources document the deed of foundation). Archaeological excavation has revealed the existence of an earlier religious building, erected during the Early Christian period or the Early Middle Ages. The earliest ruins date back to Roman times.

The Archaeological Excavation

U. Monneret de Villard first unearthed the remains of the church in 1913. It had lain beneath a five-meter layer of earth and rubble. L. M. Bellonicarried out further investigations between 1958 and 1969; he identified a portico near the façade and the ruins of Pre-Romanesque buildings.

Description

The Romanesque building was a large three-aisled basilica (22×62 m); the aisles, separated by octagonal masonry columns, terminated in three semicircular apses facing east. A central staircase of 9 steps allowed visitors to ascend to the raised presbytery while in the wings two smaller staircases led down to the crypt. Given the composition of the terrain (for the most part bedrock), the right apse was placed at the same level as the aisles while the left apse was built on a somewhat higher level.

A portico with two side wings containing several graves was built in front of the façade. In the left wing a staircase led to a raised plateau and the religious complex of St. John with its twin apse baptismal hall. The granite threshold of the entrance portal is still visible in the middle of the wall which once was the façade of the church.

The fragments of fresco found by Monneret de Villard indicate that the interior of the church was probably plastered and painted. The patterns include geometric designs (red stripes against a yellow background) and vegetal motifs. Two fragments with human faces, perhaps representing saints, were found inside the church.

Findings

Some of the archaeological finds discovered on site are now preserved in the Antiquarium. These include blocks of marble cornices dating back to Roman times, fragments of Roman and Early Christian inscriptions, and fragments of painted plaster from the Romanesque church.

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