San Giacomo Church is in the centre of Como city, behind the Broletto Palace, between the Cathedral and the Bishop Palace. The present feature comes from many demolitions and transformations. It was an important Basilica built around the second half of the 10th century. The origins and the function of San Giacomo, haven’t yet been cleared out.
It was built in the centre of the civil and religious power of Como. It could have been the second pole of a double cathedral. It was a kind of religious architecture also in other Northern Italian cities. San Giacomo Church had a leading civil role, it became the seat of public meetings of the town. In the meanwhile it reduced the original link with the Cathedral. Certainly in 1279 San Giacomo Church was already a parish seat.
The Romanesque ancient building was divided in three long naves, divided by cylindrical pillars with cubic capitals. The naves were covered by a roof with trusses, and the transept was covered by a lantern. There were three apses, the biggest one had niches and an external loggia. Certainly the church had a bell-tower to copy the tower of Broletto.
Many buildings arose behind San Giacomo Church, the external area was the scene of violent clashes. In 1578, due to the degradation of the Church and the increasing power of the Cathedral, part of San Giacomo was demolished. The Church was reduced in length and in the following decades the Baroque transformation took place.
In 1672, Pope Clemente X gave San Giacomo Parish to the fathers of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri, these fathers were supported by the Cardinal of Como, Benedetto Odescalchi, well-known as pope Innocent XI.
In 1798 and 1800, the French occupiers abolished the Congregation and all the goods were taken away and put for sale. In the following years, San Giacomo was opened again and became a subsidiary Church. In 1836 a festive oratory for the children and youngstern of the city was founded.
In the 70’s a new restructuration in San Giacomo with radical interventions carried out, which restored the Romanesque elements and eliminating the Baroque features.
The gabled façade was made following the project of architect Giovanni Antonio Piotti from Vacallo. It is characterized by its ocher colored plaster, decoration withfalse marble and the big window. In the upper part of the façade you can see the Triumph of Cross. The roof is covered by a modest bell tower.
Interior is characterized by a Romanesque chancel, and by a semicircle apse with seven niches. The eighteenth-century altar fas been eliminating. Above it, there was the San Giacomo martyrdom, attributed to the brothers Giovanni Paolo and Giovanni Battista Recchi (the portrait is now in San Provino Church).
Around the seventeenth century, the Swiss painter Giovanni Battista Colomba painted the Pentecost in the bowl apse. On the right side chapel there is the painting of St Philip Neri in adoration of Christ crucified (1680) made by Giovanni Stefano Doneda know as Montalto. In the next chapel it is possible to see St Joseph (1740) painted by the Venetian painter Giovan Battista Pittoni.