It is thought that during the mediaeval era, a popular rumour spread claiming that Verona was founded by Shem, son of Noah, with the name of Minor Jerusalem. This fact seems to have been particularly helpful for European pilgrims at the time who, unable to travel to the Holy Land, could at least visit the miniature Jerusalem in Verona.
A spiritual investment which shaped the city, one which was repeated in other Italian cities such as Bologna, Pisa and Lucca. So you can see why in these cities, just like in Verona, we say there are almost more churches than people!
The Verona Minor Hierusalem foundations
Visit us and the Verona Minor Hierusalem project. The aim of the project is to promote Verona’s churches for their historical and religious value. To help visitors explore the city's spiritual side, the Foundation, its volunteers and assorted city bodies have prepared three guided tours of Verona to introduce you to the deep bond between the city and the Holy Land, appreciating it in historical, religious and artistic terms. Rebirth from the water.
Verona across the river
This circular 3.5 kilometre route starts at the Ponte Pietra and takes you to the most important churches on the other side of the wide loop of the Adige river which encircles the historic city centre. San Giorgio in Braida, Santo Stefano, Santi Siro e Libera, San Giovanni in Valle, Santa Maria in Organo and the chapel of San Pietro Martire, where there is an information point. This is an area of Verona which is quiet and relatively youthful. You are in Veronetta, overlooked by the Colle di San Pietro hill which offers beautiful views over the city centre.
Rebirth from the land. Verona, a crossroads of civilisations, cultures and history
A route through Roman monuments, castles and majestic palaces, to see first-hand the evolution of a UNESCO World Heritage city. The volunteers will show you the interiors of six Veronese churches: San Lorenzo, Santi Teuteria e Tosca, Santa Eufemia, San Giovanni in Foro, San Benedetto al Monte and San Zeno in Oratorio, where the itinerary starts. This church is particularly dear to the Veronese, because it contains the stone on which Saint Zeno, the patron saint of the city, would sit when he went fishing in the Adige river. To add to the experience, you are accompanied by the character of Tobit from the bible. Along the route you will see many historical monuments including the route are the Arco dei Gavi archway, the Corte Sgarzerie with its mediaeval arcade and the ancient palaces on Corso Cavour.
Rebirth from the Heavens. The music of Mozart and the stories of saints
This final itinerary explores key people from the religious history of Verona. The itinerary covers the Order of the Knights Templar, the guardians of the faith, sacred music by Mozart and one of the best known reliquaries in Europe, containing thousands of religious artefacts. The route is also a chance to take a historical look at the multicultural Veronetta district, on roads which, many centuries ago, were travelled by the Knights Templar on their journeys to Jerusalem, stopping off in the churches of Santa Toscana, Santa Maria del Paradiso with its famous reliquary and the church of Santi Nazaro e Celso, where you can admire the paintings of some of the 16th century’s greatest artists.
Moving on to the Renaissance, we come to the church of San Tomaso Cantuariense, devoted to Saint Thomas Beckett, with an organ which was played by Mozart during the 1700s. The route ends at San Paolo church, in the middle of the university area, where you can see the extraordinary altar by Girolamo dai Libri and paintings by Paolo Veronese.
The three routes are an opportunity for everyone, whether they are believers or not, to explore the places and symbols of Verona history. Three routes to learn more about one of the city’s more unconventional areas but one which is full of culture and which offers much to Christians.