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The church of Santa Maria Forisportam, which is also known as Santa Maria Bianca, is one of the most popular to visit in Lucca.

This most splendid and historic building was begun in the 12th century on this site, where in the 8th-century another church had stood.

It's name was acquired due to the fact it was beyond the old Roman barricade that used to surround the town. A litteral translation of the name Forisportam is "Outside the Walls".

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The Church's Location

It's located now, well inside both the city and the medieval walls in the Piazza Santa Maria Forisportam. If you can imagine that the larger church of Santa Croc is the middle of town. Follow the road called Via Santa Croc to the East and you will reach this church before you reach the city walls. With investigation you can work out that this area was the limit of the origional roman walls in the city.

Details of the Facade

One only has to look at Santa Maria's 12th-century facade with its impressed lozenges to be impressed in ones own right. Strangely the front was either never really completed or has been rebuilt at some point, as can be seen at the very top, where bricks stand out from the classic white stone. With the galleries of different sized columns and a trinity of portals each flanked by marble pilasters, one can make a comparison with Pisa's Duomo. The actual architect, whose identity is unknown, was clearly and heavily influenced by the Pisan style.

Photograph of the facade of Santa Maria Forisportam church in Lucca

Inside Santa Maria Forisportam

The interior of Santa Maria church in Lucca is mainly 17th centry. It contains a number of interesting architectural pieces: a polygonal shrine with columns encrusted with semi-precious stones, two 15th-century baptismal fonts, and a 5th-century Roman sarcophagus. This latter of these is also used as a holy water font. Notable artworks on display include two mid-17th-century Guercino paintings: St. Lucy, situated on the fourth altar, and a smoke-blackened Assumption in the north transept. Admission is free.

Picture of the Pisan Styled Church in Lucca