Lucca Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Lucca, Cattedrale di San Martino) is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours in Lucca, Italy. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Lucca. Construction was begun in 1063 by Bishop Anselm (later Pope Alexander II).
The Cathedral of Lucca is located in a secluded part of the historic center, a little out of the canonical path of tourists that crosses the city (the one inside the walls, to be understood) following the famous street called Il Fillungo.
Naturally, this unusual location has its own reason: the period in which it was built, during the sixth century, the most central area, and the most urbanistically speaking, was too congested (only later, in fact, the famous square of San Michele , in the historic center, it will be available for the construction of the church of the same name), so the square where other religious buildings overlooked, including the baptistery: Piazza San Martino.
Lucca Cathedral is a place of legend and emotion. It’s the jealous guardian of the Volto Santo, or Holy Countenance. It’s also houses the tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, one of the finest works of 15th century Italian sculpture.
Lucca’s predominantly Romanesque cathedral dates from the 11th century. Its stunning facade was constructed in the prevailing Lucca-Pisan style and designed to accommodate the pre-existing campanile (bell tower).
The reliefs over the left doorway of the portico are believed to be by Nicola Pisano, while inside, treasures include the Volto Santo (literally, Holy Countenance) crucifix sculpture and a wonderful 15th-century tomb in the sacristy.
The cathedral interior was rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries with a Gothic flourish.
Legend has it that the Volto Santo, a simply fashioned image of a dark-skinned, life-sized Christ on a wooden crucifix, was carved by Nicodemus, who witnessed the crucifixion. In fact, it has been dated to the 13th century. A major object of pilgrimage, the sculpture is carried through the streets every 13 September at dusk during the Luminaria di Santa Croce, a solemn torch-lit procession marking its miraculous arrival in Lucca.
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