The Arche Scaligere (“Scaligeri Sarcofaghi”) are the most striking Gothic monuments in Verona. They are located next to the Santa Maria Antica Church and used to be a private churchyard for the influential Della Scala family. The sarcophagi in this cemetery are richly decorated with statues and other ornaments.
Arche Scaligere Verona
The Arche Scaligeri were built in the 14th century. Various sculptors were hired to do the work.
Although already in the 16th century it was considered difficult to preserve the monuments’ condition, it was not until 1839 that a complete restoration took place.
The Arca di Mastino however had already been restored in 1786.
The original statues of Cangrande and Mastino II were later moved in order to be able to preserve them better. The Cangrande statue is now kept in one of the towers of the Castelvecchio.
Upon entering, the first sarcophagus, with its back against the church wall, is the one of Mastino I. The decorations are among the more sober ones.
The next one is the tomb of Alberto I. It is similar to the sarcophagus of Mastino I, except that the decorations are more elaborate. The antefixes are decorated with the symbols of the Evangelists and the figures of the Patriarchs. The imperial coat of arms on the cover is flanked by two of the coats of arms of the Della Scala family.
The three unadorned tombs with their backs against the fenced wall circling the churchyard are probably those of Bartolomeo I, Cangrande II and Bartolomeo II (or Bailardo Nogarola).
One of the most striking tombs is the one of Cangrande I, attached above the side entrance of the Santa Maria Antica Church. It is supported by four dogs holding up the Della Scala coat of arms. It is adorned with three statues and a depiction of Verona itself. The baldachin with the equestrian statue of Cangrande is supported by four columns.
The tomb of Mastino II is raised on a platform supported by four pillars. Mastino‘s face is gaunt and bearded. This tomb is also crowned by an equestrian statue. Some traces of the original colours are left.
The most sumptuously decorated tomb is the Arca di Cansignorio. It is held up by four angels. The sides are decorated with reliefs depicting events from the Gospels. The sculptor, Bonino da Campione, engraved his name into the sarcophagus.
The tomb of Giovanni della Scala is visible in the back of the cemetery. It was only placed here in 1831.