Abbey Cathedral of Santa Tecla (1690-1702)
The Cathedral of Santa Tecla in Este is the oldest and most important place of worship of the walled city, built on the remains of an ancient Christian church, destroyed by an earthquake in 1688. Its foundation dates back to the IV-V century A.D., originally site of a pre-existing pagan temple. The church was dedicated to Saint Tecla, a virgin and martyr native of Anatolia. During the Middle Ages the building was progressively enlarged and the church at one point had five naves. During the restoration work carried out between 1583 and 1592, following the project of Vincenzo Scamozzi, the façade was rebuilt facing the new centre which in the meantime had arisen. In 1688 the earthquake seriously damaged the cathedral, which was then demolished and rebuilt. The Venetian architect Antonio Gaspari designed a one-of-a-kind architectural masterpiece in Baroque style, with its original oval layout and oblique architecture. The construction lasted until the third decade of the eighteenth century, with works of embellishment which had not however led to the execution of the façade, which according to the project of the Gaspari, had to be richly decorated with marble and statues. The Cathedral of Santa Tecla in Este houses a large number of works of art of the eighteenth century by illustrious artists such as Tiepolo, Corradini, Grigoletti, Zanchi and Amigoni. The most famous work of art is certainly the great altarpiece – currently undergoing restoration – located in the apse depicting Santa Tecla, who intercedes with the Eternal Father for the liberation of the city from the plague of 1630, made by Giovan Battista Tiepolo in 1759. The canvas of considerable size is considered a masterpiece among the paintings with religious subjects by the famous Venetian artist. Another work of immense value is located to the right of the presbytery, in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. It is the group of sculptures depicting the Triumph of the Eucharist by the Venetian master Antonio Corradini. The Cathedral houses the uncorrupted body of Beata Beatrice d’Este, the second patron saint of the city, under the altar dedicated to her.
Opening times: Standard time: from 7am – to 11.45am and from 15.30pm – to 17pm – Daylight saving time: from 7am – to 11.45am and from 16.00pm – to18pm. On Sundays and religious holidays it is open only in the afternoon hours. Free entry
Awaiting the return of the masterpiece by Giovan Battista Tiepolo: “Santa Tecla who intercedes for the liberation of Este from the plague”.
This large altarpiece (measuring 27 square metres) represents the greatest masterpiece of a religious subject by Giambattista Tiepolo, genial artist who lived between 1696 and 1770: the subject represents the liberation of the city from the plague of 1630, liberation that the religious sentiment attaches to the intercession of the Patron Saint, Tecla. Since 1759, usually located in the apse of the Abbey Cathedral of Santa Tecla, the altarpiece is currently the subject of a painstaking restoration intervention. A restoration for which the Soprintendenza, a branch of the Fine Arts Ministry in charge of the cultural, historical and artistic heritage for the provinces of Venice, Belluno, Padua and Treviso has requested and demanded preventive testing in the laboratory and scientific analysis suitable for defining the conservation status of the work of art, in order to restore it to the perfection of its original characteristics (unfortunately concealed by restoration interventions that took place 80-90 and 120 years ago). The verifications by the Soprintendenza on the conditions of the painting, supported by the diagnostic campaign undertaken, have highlighted the need for a lengthy and effective intervention of restoration. To contribute actively to the restoration of the altarpiece there is the involvement of the citizens and all the economic realities of the territory in the fundraising initiative, a project called “Awaiting Tiepolo” that the Municipal administration has established already since 2017, also with the support of the cultural associations and volunteer organisations of Este. Among the initiatives with greater resonance we mention the concert-event of the “Northern Sinfonietta” chamber orchestra of the “Music-Hall” Theatre of Saint Petersburg, under the direction of the famous orchestra conductor Fabio Mastrangelo and the extraordinary participation of the tenor Cristian Ricci, in collaboration with the Laboratorio Lirico del Veneto and that of the Youth Orchestra Giovani Musicisti Veneti directed by Maestro Francesco Pavan: events that have had international resonance and have made Este and its masterpieces known abroad. Two appointments took place during the summer of 2018: on 6 July at the Chiostro di San Francesco with the Orchestra Sinfonica delle Terre Verdiane and on 8 September in the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie where there was a performance of the Orchestra of the Music Hall Theatre of Saint Petersburg.
The exhibition ”Giambattista Tiepolo e i protagonisti dell’incisione veneta del Settecento” – that took place from March 10th till June 9th, 2019 in National Archaeological Museum Atestino – was a tribute to the great artist and a celebration of the return to Este of his masterpiece.