San Martino

The cathedral of Lucca has a very ancient history and has undergone various renovations over time that have led to the architectural jewel we see today: the primitive church of S. Martino, according to the tradition erected by S. Frediano in the sixth century, became the city cathedral during VIII century instead of S. Giovanni and Reparata. In 1060 it was rebuilt by Anselmo da Baggio as bishop of Lucca and pope with the name of Alexander II, who personally consecrated it in 1070.

At the beginning of the thirteenth century, the portico on the facade was built from the Guidetto construction site, with three arches, of which the one to the south restricted by the presence of the pre-existing bell tower; above the arches the facade is completed by three levels of loggias, and by a rich sculptural decoration. On a pillar a labyrinth can be seen carved with an inscription that speaks of the myth of Theseus and Ariadne.

Inside the large church we find three naves with a transept and a semicircular apse is the result of various interventions during the fourteenth century: at the beginning the previous church was enlarged by making the apse, still in Romanesque style, further back to enlarge the church and equip it with a transept built later with Gothic arches, supported by pillars with simple frames, one of which is still visible against the apse.
In 1372, after the liberation of the city from the Pisan domination, these pillars were deemed unsuitable and qualified workers were brought in to rebuild them as we see them today, to support the elevation. The union of Romanesque elements such as the apse and the round arches join the verticalism of the central nave with the three-light windows and the Gothic pillars and make the Lucca cathedral a unique building.

Among the many works of art that adorn the interior of the cathedral we mention the Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saints by Domenico Ghirlandaio (around 1479), and in the sacristy, the Last Supper by Tintoretto (1592-94) and the funeral monument to Ilaria del Caretto. In the middle of the cathedral in the lateral nave there is the small temple created by Matteo Civitali in the end of 1484 to house the Holy Face, highly venerated by Lucca citizens, who dedicate the sculpture a solemn procession every 13th of September.