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Doorway from the Church of San Nicolò, San Gemini

Doorway from the Church of San Nicolò, San Gemini MET DP212404

Doorway from the Church of San Nicolò, San Gemini

The Doorway from the Church of San Nicolò, San Gemini is an example of the reuse of materials during the life of medieval buildings including churches. All of the marble used to make this doorway originally came from the ruins of nearby Roman buildings. The doorway marbles displaying an array of styles and techniques, the principal elements were carved at different times in the eleventh century.

The lions were probably made for another purpose but were reused by inserting in the door portals. The whole was assembled for the church that was one to two centuries after the original marble sculptures. The animal imagery used in decorating the portal had symbolic significance.

The church of San Nicolò, located outside the town of San Gemini, is referenced for the first time in 1036. It is difficult to be accurate about how the church building and features evolved as it is the result of numerous renovations. The portal, surmounted by archivolt, was sold in 1939 by the Italian State at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.


  • What possible ruined structures did the marble sculptures of this doorway come from?
  • How many medieval church buildings, were constructed from ancient Roman temples?

Explore the Medieval Art Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Doorway from the Church of San Nicolò, San Gemini

  • Title:            Doorway from the Church of San Nicolò, San Gemini
  • Date:            carved 1000s, assembled 1100s or 1200s
  • Culture:        Central Italian
  • Geography:  Made in San Gemini, Umbria, Central Italy
  • Medium:       Marble (Lunense marble from Carrara)
  • Dimensions:  H. 11 ft. 9 in. x 8 ft. 4 in. (358.4 x 254.2 cm)
  • Museum:       Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET


“Do not be anxious about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”

– Jesus Christ


Photo Credit: 1) Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC BY 2.5 (], via

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