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The wonder of the Lucca Cathedral

In the historic center of Lucca there is a real jewel: the Cathedral of San Martino, better known as the Cathedral of Lucca.


The history of the church


Dedicated to San Martino, the Cathedral of Lucca was built by the will of San Frediano, the bishop of Lucca who died in 588. Despite the efforts made to carry out the work, it was completely rebuilt between 1060 and 1070, the year of definitive consecration as a place of worship.

It was Anselmo da Baggio, better known as Pope Alexander II, who celebrated the rite in 1070 in the presence of Countess Matilde di Canossa. The last part of the work was completed in 1637, the year in which the splendid Chapel of the Sanctuary was built.

To inspire the realization of the facade was another Cathedral, that of Pisa. The Cathedral of San Martino belongs to the Lucca Romanesque period, brought to its maximum splendor by one of the greatest experts in the field of Italian architecture at the time, Guidetto da Como. The latter supervised the work of the facade of the Cathedral, made with polychrome marble, consisting of three arches with beautiful bas-reliefs.


Cathedral of San Martino, the elements of interest


The lowered reliefs depict the martyrdom of San Regolo (a bishop of African origins who was later celebrated as a holy martyr by the Catholic Church), the cycle of months and some stories inspired by San Martino.

Under the portico of the church the desks of the money changers are still clearly visible. The latter used to do business with all the pilgrims who passed through the Via Francigena, that is, the road that crossed Lucca and led directly to Rome. At the money changers, an inscription still visible today reminded them every day not to cheat customers

The Holy Face is preserved inside the church. According to tradition, this wooden crucifix was made by Nicodemus based directly on the face of Jesus. The statue, considered the oldest in the whole of the West, is kept inside a small temple built by Matteo Civitali.

The funeral monument to Ilaria del Carretto stands out to embellish the set of works of the Cathedral of Lucca. Made by Jacopo della Quercia between 1406 and 1408, the marble work celebrates the young woman - wife of Paolo Guinigi, a well-known politician of the time - who died at a young age after giving birth. The girl, who in the work seems to be asleep, is represented in the company of a dog, a symbol of marital fidelity.

The wonders of the Cathedral of Lucca are completed by the works of art preserved in the three naves of the chapel, including L'ultima Cena by Jacopo Tintoretto and La Madonna in trono con bambino e santi by Domenico Ghirlandaio.

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