History of Cathedral San Martino Lucca
As mentioned before the construction of Cathedral San Martino was begun in 1062, and was declared sacred in 1070. The location of the Duomo di Lucca may seem a bit odd at first, but there’s a very logical reason behind this oddity. It is located in a strategic point of Lucca at the crossroads of the two main streets, while still being near the city walls. There was already a church in the location, before officially and completely building the St. Martin Cathedral between 1060 and 1070.
There is not much left of the church that was built in 1060: the west facade was completely decorated in 1204 and the portico in 1233. This is how the cathedral obtained it present appearance.
A masterpiece in Gothic and Romanesque style
Lucca’s Cathedral is in both a Gothic and Romanesque style. You’ll find the Late Gothic influence at the interior of the Duomo, which has been decorated in the 14th and 15th centuries. During these centuries the naves were reduced to three. The interior is decorated with paintings, and on the façade we see a copy of the scene of St. Martin with a poor man (you can find the original inside). We also see a knight on a horse, another image that refers to San Martine who was in fact a knight in armour. Nicola Pisano created the sculptures of the left portal. Even Jacopo della Quarcia, the sculptor of the Fonte Gaia in Siena, participated in the decorative work of the cathedral.
The marble facade resembles the one of the Cathedral in Pisa – the main difference between the two cathedrals are the bas-reliefs and the representations dedicated to St. Martin.
Right next to the Duomo of Lucca rises the bell tower, decorated with hanging arches and windows to lighten it. The base of the bell tower is made of quartz, providing a strong contrast to the limestone top. The bell tower already existed before the creation of the St. Martin Cathedral, which is why one of the three arches is smaller than the other two. They had to make space for the already existing bell tower, which is why they scrunched one of the arches.
The square around the Duomo of Lucca, Piazza Antelminelli, may seem a little strange at first but it is personally my favourite piazza in Lucca. I suggest you to sit down at Undici Undici, a very nice cafe near the Duomo di San Martino. It is a quiet square, and sitting down at the terrace with a book and a nice capuccino you’ll be able to fully enjoy the surroundings of this undervalued square. Fun fact: did you know that the water from Aqcuaduct Nottolini used to arrive at the fountain in this square?
Important information before visiting
How to get to Lucca’s Cathedral
Lucca’s Cathedral is located in a rather secluded location of the old city center. It is actually right next to my favourite square in Lucca: Piazza Antelminelli. If you want to look for the cathedral by wandering around I advice you to follow the street Il Fillungo: just follow the white-tipped tower as your guide and you’ll get there.
If you don’t have time to get lost in Lucca, just follow the address Piazza Antelminelli, 55100 Lucca LU, Italy and you’ll get there. If you click the link a new tab will open with Google Maps directing your right to Lucca’s gorgeous duomo.
Summer: 07:00 – 19:00
Winter: 07:00 – 17:00