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The History

Discover the origin of the ‘Aquae Patavinae’ and the history of the Euganean thermal area...

 

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Archaeological site at Colle San Pietro Montagnon
Montegrotto Terme, 1st century B.C. – 2nd century A.D.; from 13th century A.D. to nowadays

In the course of time, three big buildings (presumably built between the 1st century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D.) have been located in the area around Colle San Pietro Montagnon: the biggest one was discovered underneath the now existing Duomo dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, a second one was found underneath the Oratorio della Madonna Nera, while a wide circular thermal pool – the so-called “Bagno di Montagnone” – emerged in the 19th century halfway between the aforesaid two structures. These buildings were all linked to the exploitation of thermal water: as a matter of fact, several lengths of pipes and stretches of Roman aqueducts have been found on a number of occasions all around the hill.
The Oratorio della Madonna Nera was built in 1724 and became the parish church dedicated to St Peter until the mid-20th century, when the new Duomo was erected. The Oratorio exploits a belfry dating back to the 13th century.


Storia degli Studi

The documentation about buildings, aqueducts and items found on the Colle di San Pietro Montagnon is the result of casual discoveries, occurred at various times in the past centuries; no building is visible any longer. In particular, the building with a series of adjacent rooms emerged in the Sixties; the so-called “Bagno di Montagnone” and the second thermal building were discovered at the beginning of the 19th century, together with mosaics and other structures located in the area today occupied by the Oratorio della Madonna Nera.


Descrizione

Età romana

All we know about the imposing Roman buildings detected in the last three centuries in the area surrounding Colle San Pietro Montagnon ensues from antiquarian information and – in the flukiest cases – from the drawings traced out at the moment of the discovery.
The foundations of an ancient building are located underneath the right aisle of the new Duomo: long more than 40 m, this building was made up of a series of adjacent rooms, not communicating among them and all accessible from the same short side. Given their stateliness, at the moment of their discovery these structures were supposed to refer to the “imperial palace” mentioned by Cassiodorus – but this interpretation is not at all verifiable. The same building is presumably connected with the room located in 1948 a little westwards, always under the church, and interpreted as a pool for hot water, or “calidarium”; this room had a central well and walls made of “opus vittatum”.
In past times, various remains emerged next to the Oratorio della Madonna Nera: foundations, mosaics and traces of another big building, characterized by an elaborate plan and presumably equipped with thermal pools.
The so-called “Bagno di Montagnone” was instead located approximately halfway between the Oratorio della Madonna Nera and the new Duomo; it was made up of a wide circular pool, probably linked in origin to a broader architectural complex. The high-quality level of the building is witnessed by the great number of precious marble fragments that pertain to the structure and have been found nearby. Perhaps, the numerous decorative and architectural marble elements, the “pâte de verre” mosaic fragments, the fluted shafts of trachyte columns and the ornamental friezes that have been discovered in the proximity of the Antiche Terme Tiberio Hotel could also refer to the same context.
Beyond the difficulty of interpreting the precise function of these buildings, it is evident that they had a relationship with thermal waters. As a matter of fact, it has to be highlighted that the area of Colle San Pietro Montagnon is surrounded by structures of aqueduct, aimed at the catchment and the redistribution of thermal waters.

Età medioevale e moderna

The ancient church dedicated to St Peter, attested in a 18th-century perspective drawing, is today witnessed only by the belfry, made of scabbled stones laid out on regular rows. According to written sources, this church was already existent in 1158.
The belfry became part of the Oratorio della Madonna Nera in 1724; the Oratorio was a parish church until the mid-20th century, when the new Duomo di SS. Pietro e Paolo was built on the top of the hill and afterwards consecrated.

 

Cronologia

Roman buildings: 1st century B.C. – approximately 2nd century A.D.
St Peter Church: prior to 1158, then Oratorio della Madonna Nera from 1724
Duomo di SS. Pietro e Paolo: mid-20th century.

 

Contesto geografico ed urbanistico

The Roman buildings and the medieval church dedicated to St Peter (attested for the first time in 1156) rose on the top and on the northwest slope of the low hill (26 m above sea level) historically known as Colle San Pietro Montagnon or Montagnone – located a little east of Monte Castello. From the Fifties on, the hilltop houses the new Duomo dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, while the Oratorio della Madonna Nera – dedicated to St Peter as well – rises on the spot of the ancient church, along the northwest slopes.

 

Bibliografia

Bortolami S., Il Castello di Montagnon e i suoi signori nel Medioevo, in Dal castello di Montagnon alla Torre di Berta, a cura di A. Pallaro, Padova 1999, pp. 21-39.
Bortolami S., Le terme euganee nel Medioevo. Dettagli di un paesaggio fisico e sociale, in Bains curatifs et bains hygiéniques en Italie de l’Antiquité au Moyen Âge (Collection de l’École française de Rome 383), a cura di M. Guérin-Beauvois, J.-M. Martin, Roma 2007, pp. 153-175.
Codice Diplomatico Padovano I, n. 238, 265, 266, 281, 282, 337 , .
Codice Diplomatico Padovano II, n. 74, 127, 885 , .
Settia A. , Castelli euganei, in I Colli Euganei, a cura di F. Selmin, Padova 2005, pp. 117-139.

 
 

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