Cattedrale di Santa Maria

sights / Religious

Cattedrale di Santa Maria information

Cagliari , Italy
Piazza Palazzo 4
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Opening hours
8am-noon & 4-8pm Mon-Sat, 8am-1pm & 4.30-8.30pm Sun
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Cagliari’s graceful 13th-century cathedral stands proud on Piazza Palazzo. Except for the square-based bell tower, little remains of the original Gothic structure: the clean Pisan-Romanesque facade is a 20th-century imitation, added between 1933 and 1938. Inside, the once-Gothic church disappears beneath a rich icing of baroque decor, the result of a radical late 17th-century makeover. Bright frescoes adorn the ceilings, and the three chapels on either side of the aisles spill over exuberantly with sculptural whirls.

The third chapel to the right, the Cappella di San Michele, is perhaps the pinnacle of the baroque genre. A serene St Michael, who appears (in baroque fashion) to be in the eye of a swirling storm, casts devils into hell.

At the central door, note the two stone pulpits, sculpted by Guglielmo da Pisa between 1158 and 1162. They originally formed a single unit, which stood in Pisa’s Duomo until the Pisans donated it to Cagliari in 1312. It was subsequently split into two by the meddlesome Domenico Spotorno, the architect behind the 17th-century baroque facelift, and the big stone lions that formed its base were removed to the altar where they now stand.

On the other side of the altar is the entrance to the Aula Capitolare, the crypt where many Savoy tombs are conserved. Carved out of rock, the barrel-vaulted chamber is an impressive sight with its mass of sculptural decoration and intricate carvings.