Date of Visit

2023




 
Italy


Amalfi

Amalfi Cathedral






Summary

The Amalfi Cathedral dates back to the 9th century and displays examples of Arab-Norman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural styles.  It is famous for containing the relics of St Andrew, which were brought to the cathedral in 1206 and are now held in the cathedralís crypt.


Amalfi Cathedral is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew, who is the patron saint of Amalfi.

Built in the 9th and 10th centuries, the cathedral was expanded in the 11th century,  and it has been added to and redecorated on a number of occasions, consequently containing overlaying architectural features including Arab-Norman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.

Much of the original structure was destroyed in an earthquake in 1343, although it was rebuilt, predominantly in Gothic and Arab-Norman styles, the architectural style prevalent during that time.

The first church on the site was built in the 9th century on the ruins of a temple. This is now the Diocesan Museum of Amalfi.  In the 10th century, a second church was built to the south and this was to develop into what is now the cathedral. 

Construction of the Bell Tower began in 1180 and was completed in 1276. Placed in front of the first church on the site it was Romanesque in style.  It incorporated a cluster of four small towers around a larger one, constructed forming interlaced Gothic arches in an Arab-Norman style. All are decorated with brightly coloured majolica tiles. These are tin-glazed pottery. 

At the top, is a bell chamber where the bells are housed. They are normally rung on special occasions or for religious ceremonies.



By the 12th century, the two churches formed a single 6-aisle Romanesque church, which was reduced to 5 in the 13th century to allow the construction in the Arab-Norman style of the Cloister of Paradise, which is an enclosed courtyard adjacent to the cathedral. This houses a garden, ancient Roman statuary and sarcophagi, Moorish arches, and palm trees. 




The cloister was originally built between 1266-68 for the tombs of the Amalfi aristocracy, and along the perimeter are several chapels they commissioned.

Within the cloister are a number of medieval frescoes that were once part of the cathedralís interior decoration. These show various religious scenes, including the lives of saints, biblical stories, and symbolic imagery. The frescoes were transferred to the cloister for preservation and to protect them from weathering and deterioration. 




Leading from the cloister is the Diocesan Museum which holds a range of items, such as intricately crafted silver and gold reliquaries, ornate chalices, ancient manuscripts, beautifully painted panels, ancient frescos, and an elaborate bishopís hat with inlaid pearls and gems. 



The display also includes several busts and statues, such as a statue of the Roman goddess Fortuna and a bust of the Roman emperor Tiberius.

The museum is in the 9th-century Chapel of the Crucifix, which is the oldest part of the church. The crucifix prominently displayed is believed to date back to the 13th century. The museum also contains traces of 14th-century frescos and other religious artifacts. 




From the Basilica of the Crucifix, steps lead into the Crypt of St. Andrew, where his relics can be found, the crypt is positioned below the cathedralís main altar. The remains of St. Andrew were reportedly brought to Amalfi from Constantinople in 1206 during the Fourth Crusade by Cardinal Peter of Capua. In 1208, the crypt was completed, and the relics were given to the church.   His skull is behind the main altar in a small and richly decorated case. The rest of his relics are buried below the altar, a large bronze statue of St. Andrew was placed there in 1604. 



Displayed in the crypt are a number of frescoes and mosaics dating back to the 12th century. The crypt is decorated with Baroque murals from the 1660s.

The main facade of the cathedral is composed of three arched portals. These help to create a sense of height and grandeur. The horseshoe shape and geometric patterns reflect a Moorish influence.  Constructed of striped marble and stone with a tall pediment decorated with mosaics, and a deep porch with delicate Arab-Moorish windows.

Above the porch is a triangular pediment is a frieze with mosaics of the 12 apostles, while at the very top, in the tympanum, are the mosaics that portray The Triumph of Christ.

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In 1861, part of the facade collapsed, causing damage to the atrium. This resulted in the whole front of the church being rebuilt in a richly decorated manner in the Italian Gothic and Arab-Norman styles. Completed in 1891, the result was similar but more ornate than the original. This also entailed the entire reconstruction of the grand staircase with its 62 steps.

At the top of the stairs running along the front of the cathedral is the Loggia.  This is a covered gallery consisting of arches, which are supported by granite Corinthian columns. The walls have alternating stripes of dark and light-coloured marble.




To the left of the logia is the entrance to the cloister.

Within the Loggia at the top of the steps are the cathedral's bronze doors. 





Bronze was a popular material for doors during the medieval period because of its durability and resistance to corrosion. These are the earliest post-Roman manufactured doors in Italy, being cast in Constantinople (now called Istanbul) in 1057.  Consisting of 28 panels, the doors are arranged in three horizontal rows. Each depicts scenes from the life of Christ or St. Andrew. Four silver figures represent Christ and the Virgin Mary, then below them are Saint Peter and Saint Andrew.

The entrance to the cathedral leads into the nave, which is lined with columns and arches. The columns are decorated with brightly colored inlaid marble. The nave itself was decorated in the Baroque style in the 18th century.





Along the side are a number of chapels which are in the Gothic and Renaissance style. 



The first chapel on the left side, with an iron gate, contains a large basin made of red Egyptian porphyry, which was used as a baptismal font.  From there, running along the nave, are several other chapels. 







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Culminating in one at the end of the nave.




The right side also has several chapels and along this nave is displayed a 17th-century silver and copper bust of St. Andrew and a catafalque bearing a sculpture of the dead Christ, which is used on the Good Friday procession along the streets of Amalfi.





The chapel on the right of the door has a marble altarpiece with reliefs and statues of   St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist, this was constructed at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. 





At the far end of the nave is the high altar, which is formed from the sarcophagus of Peter of Capua (died 1214). The altar is adorned with ornate decorations, including gold leaf, marble, intricate carvings, and precious materials. Above the altar is a painting by Andrea dell'Asta of The Martyrdom of St. Andrew.




The boxed ceiling above the altar dates to 1702 and its artwork includes the Flagellation, the Crucifixion of the Apostle, and the Dell'Asta's 1710 Miracle of the Manna.




In front and to the side of the altar is one of the two marble pulpits built in the 17th century.  Standing at the side of this is a colorful statue of the Virgin Mary.









In the central nave are four large paintings painted at the beginning of the 18th century, also by Andrea DíAste, and represent scenes from Saint Andrewís life: The Flagellation; The Crucifixion; The Miracle of the Manna, and The Deposition in the Tomb.

The ceiling is decorated with frescos, framed by gilding. They depict the life and martyrdom of Saint Andrew and were painted by Andrea dellíAsta, an Italian painter of the 17th century.

To the right of the High Altar, at the end of the right nave, is the 17th-century Chapel of the Canonical Choir, or reliquary chapel, which holds a number of 17th and 18th-century sculpture-reliquaries. 






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              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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