Cattedrale di Cremona


Welcome to an ecclesial colossus. Cremona’s cathedral started out as a Romanesque basilica, but the simplicity of that style later gave way to an extravagance of designs. The interior frescoes are utterly overwhelming, with the Storie di Cristo (Stories of Christ) by Pordenone perhaps the highlights. One of the chapels contains what is said to be a thorn from Jesus' crown of thorns.

The cathedral was finished in 1107 but was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1117 and rebuilt by 1190. In subsequent centuries, various embellishments left traces of Gothic, Renaissance and baroque taste. As a result, Romanesque sculptures from the pre-earthquake church adorn the facade, whose upper part is largely the result of Renaissance renovation, meanwhile the brick north facade is a fine example of Lombard Gothic.

The central nave and apse have especially rich frescoes and paintings, with scenes dedicated to the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ. The local, Ferrara-born Renaissance master Boccaccio Boccaccino carried out many of them. Pordenone's mesmerising Storie di Cristo include the Crocifissione (Crucifixion) and Deposizione (Deposition); both are especially powerful and filled with curvaceous movement and voluptuous colour.

The cathedral's most prized possession is the Sacra Spina (Holy Thorn), reputed to be from the crown of thorns worn by Jesus, which was donated to the church by Cremona-born Pope Gregory XIV in 1591. It's kept behind bars in the Capella delle Reliquie, in the left transept. In the crypt, the robed and masked body of Cremona's 12th-century patron saint, San Omobono Tucenghi, is on show in a glass casket.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Cremona attractions

1. Piazza del Comune

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This beautiful, pedestrian-only piazza is considered one of the best-preserved medieval squares in all Italy. To maintain divisions between Church and…

2. Torrazzo

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Cremona's 111m-tall torrazzo (bell tower, although 'torrazzo' translates literally as ‘great, fat tower’) is the third tallest brick bell tower in the…

3. Battistero di Cremona

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The 12th-century baptistry houses some architectural fragments, including a 12th-century figure of the Archangel Gabriel that once perched on the roof.

4. Palazzo Comunale

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The Palazzo Comunale has been home to the city's government for hundreds of years. Begun in the 13th century, its arcaded walkways and courtyards were…

5. Loggia dei Militi

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A delightful little Gothic gem built in 1292, the Loggia dei Militi was where the captains of the citizen militia would meet.

6. Museo del Violino

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Cremona’s history echoes to sound of violins and violin-making, meaning a visit to this relatively new, state-of-the-art museum is practically obligatory…

7. Chiesa di Sant'Agostino

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Once inside the 14th-century Chiesa di Sant'Agostino, head for the third chapel on the right, the Cappella Cavalcabò, which features a stunning late…

8. Museo Civico Ala Ponzone

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Set in the spacious halls of the Palazzo Affaitati, Cremona's finest art gallery houses an exquisite collection of paintings dating from the 15th to the…