The heart of spirituality in Bologna
The monumental complex of Santo Stefano, or the “Sette Chiese” (Seven Churches), stands in the centre of Bologna, in Piazza Santo Stefano, and is among the city’s most fascinating religious structures.
It is named after its unique structure of seven different buildings: four churches (of the Crucifix, of the Holy Sepulchre, of Saints Vitale and Agricola, and of the Trinity), two outdoor spaces (the Benedictine Cloister and Pilate’s Courtyard) and a museum (the Museum of Santo Stefano).
Legend has it that the then bishop of the city and now patron saint of Bologna, San Petronio, founded the thousand-year-old structure in the 5th century, where a temple dedicated to Isis previously stood. After he visited the Holy Land, it is said that he decided to divide the complex into seven areas, in homage to the locations of the Passion of Christ.
A tour of the Seven Churches will lead you to discover remains from the periods of Roman, Byzantine and Lombard rule. Its unique atmosphere, featuring different styles and cultures, makes it worth visiting.