sights / Religious

Cathedral information

Modena , Italy
Corso Duomo
Opening hours
7am-12.30pm & 3.30-7pm
Something wrong?
Submit a correction

Modena's celebrated cathedral combines the austerity of the Dark Ages with throwback traditions from the Romans in a style known in Europe as Romanesque. The church stands out among Emilia-Romagna's many other ecclesial relics for its remarkable architectural purity. It is, by popular consensus, the finest Romanesque church in Italy, and in 1997 was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

While not as large or spectacular as other Italian churches, the cathedral – dedicated to the city's patron saint, St Geminianus – has a number of striking features. The dark interior is dominated by the huge Gothic rose window (actually a 13th-century addition) that shoots rays of light down the grand central apse. To the sides, a series of vivid bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Genesis are the work of the 12th-century sculptor Wiligelmo. Interior highlights include an elaborate rood screen decorated by Anselmo da Campione and, in the crypt, Guido Mazzoni's Madonna della pappa , a group of five painted terracotta figures.

Opposite the entrance to the cathedral, the Musei del Duomo holds yet more of Wiligelmo's signature stonework.

Inseparable from the cathedral is the early-13th-century Torre Ghirlandina , an 87m tower topped with a Gothic spire that was named after Seville's famous 'Giralda' in the early 16th century by exiled Spanish Jews. Facing it across Piazza Grande is the elegant facade of the Palazzo Comunale .