The Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral in Spoleto is one of the main tourist attractions of the city. Highlights are the facade with the five arches and the mosaics and the works of art by Filippo Lippi, Annibale Caracci, Pinturicchio and Giuseppe Valadier decorating the interior.
Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral Spoleto
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta – Piazza del Duomo, 6 – 06049 Spoleto (tel. +39 074323101). Opening hours: From 08.30 till 12.30 and from 15,30 till 17.30. Admission: Free.
The Cathedral of Spoleto was constructed in the 12th century. It replaced the Santa Maria in Vescovada and the San Primiano churches, which had been destroyed by Federico Barbarossa.
Saint-Anthony of Padova was sanctified in the cathedral in the year 1232. The Pope first had had to acknowledge the 53 miracles ascribed to the saint.
The bell-tower was also built in th 12th century, reusing ancient Roman, early Christian and medieval architectural elements. The cell where the clocks are kept was added between 1512 and 1515 by Cola da Caprarola.
The portico with its five arches was added between 1494 and 1504 by Ambrogio di Antonio Barocci da Milano and Pippo di Antonio da Firenze. It contains two pulpits on the sides.
In the 17th century the lateral naves and the transept were widened. The three naves end in a bit apse. This happened by order of Pope Urban VIII, who had been bishop of Spoleto from 1608 till 1617.
A baldachin near the altar was moved in 1930 in order to better be able to see Lippi’s paintings.
The most striking aspect of the facade is the upper part, with a Byzantine mosaic depicting “Jesus on the Throne between the Virgin and John the Baptist” from 1207.
The beautifully decorated rose window underneath the mosaic is flanked by four smaller, similar windows and the symbols of the Evangelists.
The 12th century Romanesque floor mosaic has remained intact.
The bronze bust of Urban VII on the interior wall of the facade is a copy of an original by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The original can be seen in the Museo Diocesano.
The main altar was made by Giuseppe Valadier in 1792. The altars in the side chapels are all also by Valadier.
Pinturicchio‘s “Madonna with Child and Saints” adorns the Cappella Eroli (1st chapel on the right).
The presbytery is decorated with several frescoes by Filippo Lippi (“Aankondiging van de Heer”, “Dormitio Virginis”, “Nativity Scene” and “Coronation of the Virgin”. The artist was assisted by Fra’ Diamante and Matteo d’Amelia. Work on the paintings lasted from 1467 till 1469.
The chapel to the right of the presbytery is the Chapel of the Holiest Icon. It is named for a smallish 12th century painting, donated to the city by Federico Barbarossa as a peace offer.
The Chapel of the Relics is in the left nave. it contains 16th century wooden sculptures, a signed letter by Sint Francis of Assisi, and a crucifix drawn on parchment in 1187 by Alberto Sozio. This last work was taken from the Church of Santi Giovanni and Paolo.
The crypt of what used to be the San Primiano Church is underneath the Chapel of the Relics.
Annibale Caracci painted the “Madonna and Child and the Saints Francis and Dorothy” (1599) in the left transept.
Filippi Lippi is buried along the wall of the left transept. His tomb was designed by his son Filippino and executed by an anonymous sculptor from Florence.