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THE DUOMO DI SAN MARTINO

The magnificent Duomo di San Martino (St. Martin’s Cathedral) which is unanimously considered a jewel from the Roman-Pisan architecture in Tuscany is located in Piazza San Martino, in the south of Lucca’s historical centre.

The building of the Romanesque Cathedral started around 1060 by desire of the by then Bishop of Lucca, Bishop Anselmo da Baggio (1015 c. – 1073), who was elected Pope in 1061 under the name of Pope Alessandro II.
From that former Cathedral the immense apse, the towering columnar arcades supporting the apse and the Campanile (bell tower) are still standing perfectly preserved.

The Cathedral was consecrated in 1070 and devoted to St. Martin. At the entrance of the Duomo, on the right, there is a beautiful sculptured group from the beginning of the 13th century depicting some episodes of St. Martin’s life, as the legendary one representing the saint, when he still was a young Roman soldier, taking up his sword and cutting his cloak to share it with an old vagabond. This sculptured group was originally situated on the exterior façade of the Duomo. Beneath the Portico of the Cathedral there are another superb Romanesque relieves depicting different episodes of the life of St. Martin.

During the 12th and the 13th centuries the Duomo of Lucca was wholly rebuilt and in 1261 the massive religious building was united to the original Campanile from the 11th century, adding to it two upper levels.

The outstanding and splendidly ornamented Romanesque façade was designed and started to construct in 1204 by the talented Lombard sculptor and architect Guidetto da Como (active in Lucca since the beginning of the 13th century until an uncertain date).
The façade is arranged by with three arches wide opened into a porch and three levels of minuscule galleries.
Guidetto da Como had probably in mind to crown the façade with a pediment, however it was never built. In order to consent the façade to bind with the Campanile, its right part has two arches less than the left one.
The porch was ornamented around the second half of the 13th century with wonderful Romanesque sculptures created by Lombard artists, as well as by Guidetto da Como.

On the façade nearby the entrance is carved in the stone wall a circular maze. The maze (49 cm.) represents the one built by Daedalus in Crete. Below it, there is a Latin inscription which says: “This is the labyrinth which Daedalus constructed for Crete, out of which nobody who was inside shall get out, except Theseus”.

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Other Pages about Lucca

Hystory and Origins

Must-See Monuments and Art in Lucca

- Il Duomo di San Martino - Palazzo dei Guinigi - Chiesa di San Michele in Foro - The native house of Giacomo Puccini

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