Cremona Cathedral

Cremona, Italy

Cremona Cathedral bell tower is the famous Torrazzo, symbol of the city and tallest pre-modern tower in Italy. Also adjoining is the baptistery, another important medieval monument.

Originally built in Romanesque style, the cathedral has been restored and extended several times, with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. Construction began in 1107, but the works were damaged and halted after an earthquake in 1117. Construction resumed in 1129, and the building was probably finished in 1160-1170. The main altar, dedicated to the city's patron saints Archelaus and Himerius, was consecrated in 1196.


The current façade was probably built in the 13th and the early 14th century. In the same period the arms of the transept were also added: the northern in 1288 and the southern in 1348.

The main façade, together with the adjoining baptistery, is one of the most important monuments of Romanesque art in Europe. It has a portico with a narthex in the middle, to which a Renaissance loggia with three niches was added in 1491. This is surmounted by a large rose window, flanked by two orders of loggette ('small loggias').

The portal is probably from the early 12th century. On its side are the figures of the Four Major Prophets, each bearing a roll with the text of their prophecies. The narthex was made by masters from Campione in the following century: it incorporates an older frieze portraying the Labours of the Months (late 12th century, inspired by that in the Baptistery of Parma). The four statues on the upper loggia, portraying the Madonna with Child and two bishops, are of the Tuscan school (1310). The columns of the narthex stand on two lions in Verona marble. The left one is holding a dragon, symbol of Evil, in his paws, while the right one is holding a bear, which in turn is biting a bird's neck.


The oldest are the frescoes of the Stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph in the southern and northern transept vaults (late 14th-early 15th century). Also from the Renaissance are the arch of the Stories of the Martyrs Marius and Marta, Audifax and Habakkuk, martyrs in Persia (best known as Arch of the Persian Martyrs, 1482), and the relief of Saint Himerius (1481-1484), both works by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo. Also notable is the urn of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, sculpted mostly by Benedetto Briosco (1506-1513), in the crypt.

The wooden choir, with inlay work by Platina (1482-1490), and the contemporary large altar cross in silver and gold, by Ambrogio Pozzi and Agostino Sacchi (1478), in the right aisle of the northern transept, are also notable.

The most important figurative complex of the cathedral is the fresco decoration on the side walls of the nave (early 16th century), portraying the Life of Mary and Christ. Different painters collaborated to its execution: the first was Boccaccio Boccaccino (with Annunciation to Joachim and Jesus with the Doctors), who, in 1506, had already painted a Redemeer with Cremona's Patron Saints in the apse vault. He was succeeded by Giovan Francesco Bembo (Epiphany and Presentation at the Temple) and Altobello Melone (Flight to EgyptMassacre of the Innocents and the first four panels of the Passion of Christ), who both adopted a less classicist style. Next came Girolamo Romanino, author of the scenes from Jesus before Pilatus to Ecce Homo, who painted some of his masterworks here.



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Founded: 1107
Category: Religious sites in Italy


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rita Fan (8 months ago)
Stunning interiors! Don’t miss out the underground of the cathedral as well
Beth Brandel (9 months ago)
Charming and huge. Bell tower outside is also beautiful
Tim Sayer (12 months ago)
Sheer beauty. No words on a google review with capture the sublime beauty of this amazing structure. Just go and breath it in
Hoa Moc Lan (12 months ago)
Cremona is situated in Lombardy region and it's the capital of the province of Cremona. The city of Cremona is especially noted for its musical history and traditions, including some of the earliest and most renowned luthiers (as violin makers are called), such as Giuseppe Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari, Francesco Rugeri, Vincenzo Rugeri, and several members of the Amati family. Dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary), the Cathedral of Cremona originally built in Romanesque architecture of the Po valley, then has been restored and extended several times, with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. The construction was begun in 1107 and consecrated in 1190. It was radically altered in the later 12th century and the 14th to the Lombard Gothic style, with rectangular nave bays and deep transepts. The façade was rebuilt several times between the 12th and 16th centuries: in 1274 the rose window by Giacomo Porrata was added, in 1491 Alberto Maffiolo da Carrara (fl 1486-1499) replaced the classical pediment with an attic storey with four niches, and in 1585 further alterations were made by Sebastiano Nani. The Cathedral workshop was also a sculpture studio, and the Four Prophets carved by Wiligelmo before 1117, which flank the main door, are outstanding for their complexity. Its bell tower is the famous Torrazzo, symbol of the city and tallest pre-modern tower in Italy. Also adjoining is the Baptistery, another important medieval monument. The bell tower of the Cathedral of Cremona has its name The Torrazzo and was built between 1284 and 1305. It measures 112.54 metres high and it is known as the third tallest brickwork bell tower in the world, after the the tower of St. Martin's Church in Landshut, Bavaria, Germany (completed in 1500 with the height of 130.6 metres) and the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium (completed in 1465 with the height of 115.6 metres). At the 4th storey of the Torrazzo resides the largest astronomical clock in the world, was installed between 1583 and 1588. The clock dial has a diameter of 8.20 metres. The clock hands are 5 (actually, they are 4 as 1 of them is a double), and they have the main function of representing a lot of astronomical phenomena, such as Lunar phases, solstices, equinoxes and eclipsis. The belfry encloses 7 bells, each dedicated to a Saint and one in particular dedicated to the patron of the city, San Homobonus. All bells tuned in the scale of A major. More than 150 luthiers still live and work in Cremona. This town of 73,000 inhabitants is also the home to the Violin Museum and the School of Violin & Viola Makers. * Photos courtesy of Internet and Facebook. Thanks!
Manpreet Singh (13 months ago)
Night time is best to trevel cremona
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