Commenda di Prè

The building is placed in Genoa in Piazza della Commenda, 1.
For many centuries the area where it was built was considered to be the suburb of the city and, in deed, it wasn't even enclosed by walls before the second half of XIV century. It was however located on one of the streets which led to the city centre: this explains why it went through many changes during the years and today it is the result many chaotic adjustments.
The “Commenda of San Giovanni in Prè” was built in 1180 according to the will of Friar William with the purpose of receiving pilgrims and cavaliers during the third crusade.
The edifice consists of three parts: the ground floor is dedicated to shelter and care; on the first floor there is a church where pilgrims would gather, whereas the top floor consists of a church that was previously used only for knights.


Bell Tower.


Scale Model


Model of the Commenda of St. John of Prè - Scale 1:50.

Belongs Superintendence of the Architectural Cultural Heritage of the region Liguria.

Execution: architect Edoardo Miola.


Ground floor after recents renovations.


The upper Hospital has a greater transparency, accentuated by the series of six slightly ogival lunar double-arched arches, distributed in two symmetrical groups of three and separated by a sturdy pillar placed in the center.
This room was reserved in particular to sick and convalescent people, which can be seen in the arches of the southern lodge that were designed to guarantee ventilation and sunlight to patients.


The lower church has a narrower surface corresponding to the central nave of the upper church. The lower compartment is divided by a series of marble columns with capitals of different shapes supporting a system of cross vaults. The columns are supported by a quadrangular brick pedestal and are also supported by the perimeter walls of the room.


Upper Archway


The building has had the archway ever since its construction. The archway represents one of the main characteristics of the Romantic building and gives the Commenda building a certain elegance and lightness that make it stand out.


Located in a niche at the base of the bell tower, there is the tombstone and memorial of Friar Willian, founder of the church of San Giovanni. The epigraph is engraved on the two outer bands of the tombstone: "Actor(e) W(ilielmo) D(omi)ni dom(us) exii h(ic) / p(ro) q(u)o queso Pater q(ui) tr(a)nsi(s) d(i)ci / MCLXXX ten(po)r(e) V(ilielm)i incoatu(m) e(s)t".
The epigraph asks the traveler to recite a prayer dedicated to a friar William.1


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  • Photos by Luca Borghi, Agosto 2017. Main text by Maria Teresa Giuffrè and Vittorio Serini, 2017.


  • Giorgio Rossini (a cura di), La Commenda di Prè: Un ospedale genovese del Medioevo, Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 1992, pp 104.

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