Archaeological site of the Roman Basilica of Brescia

Piazza Labus 3 (Brescia)

The buildings along the north side of Piazza Labus are the result of a long series of changes and adaptations of the buildings that between theMiddle Ages and the 18th century were put up against the ruins of the Roman Basilica. Still today you can clearly see in the fronts of the buildings parts of the southern façade of the big public complex planned in the Flavian age to close off the Forum, to which it constituted a sort of monumental entry. The building, destined for the mostimportant civil activities of the community, was surrounded by porticos that were joined to those of the Forum and was frontally contrasted with the sanctuary situated to the north, on the slopes of the Cydnean Hill; it was connected to it by numerous stylistic affinities, like the architectural decorations and the floor decorations. The front presented a harmonic system of apertures, three portals andtwelve windows, between Corinthian responds on Attic bases. The capitals, among the very few to be seen in situ in Brescia with those of the Capitolium and the Forum, are formed by two crowns of acanthus leaves, and support a lintel with various decreasing and protruding bands, with decoration with plants, astragals and beads also found on the frieze over the doors and the frames. The inside floor of the single big rectangular room, deprived of peristasis, was in opus sectile with slabs in white and grey marble set out in a reticular scheme and in big squares; there was a similar scheme for the floor of the external portico, characterized, however, by a tauter module with the colours in an inverted sequence. The wall linings, in contrast with the solemn chromatic sobriety of the floors, were lively compositions of polychrome slabs of Greek and Asian marbles: on this background there stood out the statues, the tables, the fountains and the honorary inscriptions. The Basilica of Brixia belongs to a transition typology between the most ancient open types and the later closed ones, original for the façade with a portico, for the vast brightness of the interior, and for the character of a big covered gallery that must have distinguished it. Inside the archaeological area, which you entered via streetnumber 3, through the office of the Lombardy Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage, you can see significant parts of the ancient Flavian building and the older layout of the piazza in the Julian-Claudian age, as well as walls from the medieval epoch that in the foundations and in the elevations reused architectural elements from the Roman monument; there are also various materialscoming from excavation of the site, including a big honorary base with a dedication to Nonius Macrinus and other finds from various epochs, from prehistory to the nineteenth century.

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