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 Egypt, Massacre 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.References:
The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.
A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.
In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.
In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.
In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.
From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.
In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.
The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.
In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.
The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.