sights / Religious

Cathedral information

Salerno , Italy
Piazza Alfano
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You can’t miss the looming presence of Salerno’s impressive cathedral, widely considered to be the most beautiful medieval church in Italy. Built by the Normans in the 11th century and later aesthetically remodelled in the 18th century, it sustained severe damage in the 1980 earthquake. It is dedicated to San Matteo (St Matthew), whose remains were reputedly brought to the city in 954 and now lie beneath the main altar in the vaulted crypt.

Take special note of the magnificent main entrance, the 12th-century Porta dei Leoni , named after the marble lions at the foot of the stairway. It leads through to a beautiful harmonious courtyard, surrounded by graceful arches, overlooked by a 12th-century bell tower. Carry on through the huge bronze doors (similarly guarded by lions), that were cast in Constantinople in the 11th century. When you come to the three-aisled interior, you will see that it is largely baroque, with only a few traces of the original church. These include parts of the transept and choir floor and the two raised pulpits in front of the choir stalls. Throughout the church you can see extraordinarily detailed and colourful 13th-century mosaic work.

In the right-hand apse, don’t miss the Cappella delle Crociate (Chapel of the Crusades), containing stunning frescoes and more wonderful mosaics. It was so named because crusaders’ weapons were blessed here. Under the altar stands the tomb of 11th-century pope Gregory VII.