The Cathedral of San Ciriaco is the Cathedral of Ancona, located in a scenic position on top of Monte Guasco, formerly occupied by the acropolis of the ancient Greek city.
SHORT HISTORY OF THE CATHEDRAL OF SAN CIRIACO
In the 4th century BC, the Greeks from Syracuse who settled in the area erected on this site a temple dedicated to Aphrodite.
The temple, whose foundations were discovered under the Cathedral, had a plan corresponding to the transept of the current church.
In the 5th century AD, an early Christian basilica dedicated to San Lorenzo was built on the remains of the ancient temple.
The Basilica of San Lorenzo had three naves, with an entrance towards the southeast, where the Chapel of the Crucifix is currently located.
At the end of the 10th century, Ancona became a powerful maritime republic. On this occasion, the ancient church was enlarged between 996 and 1015, extending the three pre-existing naves to correspond to the entire current transept.
In 1017, once the works were completed, the remains of the patron saints Marcellino and Ciriaco were transferred to the crypt inside the church, and the church became the Cathedral of Ancona.
Important expansion works were carried out between the end of the 12th century and the first half of the 13th century by Master Filippo.
An orthogonal transversal body was added to the pre-existing one, to form a Greek cross, in the center of which a dome was built.
Around the middle of the 13th century, Margaritone d’Arezzo built the prothyrum (porch) around the main portal, with the monumental column-bearing lions, which quickly became one of the symbols of the city.
Furthermore, during the same period, Margaritone replaced the previous dome with a taller one in Gothic style, whose buttresses were built inside the church.
In the 15th century, the choir and the two adjacent chapels were built, in continuation of the central nave and the lateral naves of the longitudinal arm.
During that period, the Cathedral took on the appearance it still retains today.
In the first half of the 18th century, the great architect Luigi Vanvitelli rearranged the left arm of the transept, where he designed the monumental aedicule, where the votive image of the Madonna was placed.
In 1834, the architect Niccolò Matas restored the church and had the dome covered with copper.
In 1883, the basilica underwent an impressive restoration by Giuseppe Sacconi, future superintendent of the monuments of Marche and Umbria from 1891 to 1902, who brought it back to its original austere medieval appearance.
During the Second World War, the right transept was partially destroyed by bombing. The damaged parts were rebuilt by reusing the original stones. The church was solemnly reopened in 1951.
ARCHITECTURE OF THE CATHEDRAL OF ANCONA
The Cathedral of Ancona represents a high example of Romanesque architecture, in which Byzantine and Gothic elements are mixed. The structure constitutes one of the most important examples of this style in Italy.
The tripartite facade of the church is preceded by a wide staircase, above which rises the thirteenth-century porch built by Margaritone d’Arezzo.
The porch, in Romanesque style, is formed by six arches supported by five pairs of columns. The exterior columns, in red Verona marble, rest on two lions. Under the arches, there are four bas-reliefs representing the symbols of the Evangelists.
The portal, in Romanesque-Gothic style, built in white Conero stone and red Verona marble, is attributed to Giorgio from Como.
Above the prothyrum, there is a large oculus with a Romanesque-Lombard frame, and on the sides two single lancet windows.
Isolated from the main body, stands the bell tower, built around 1314 on the remains of a late 13th-century military tower.
The interior of the church has a Greek cross plan with three naves. The columns delimiting the naves end on beautiful capitals, some of which are Byzantine.
At the center of the cross, we can find the dodecagonal dome, with spandrels supported by Byzantine-style figures of praying angels.
The side arms of the transepts end with presbyteries raised on crypts, with apses. The central naves are covered by precious wooden vaults with an inverted ship’s hull, also typical of Venetian art.
The Cathedral of San Ciriaco houses two crypts, located under the side altars – the Crypt of Tears (Cripta delle Lacrime) and the Crypt of the Protector Saints (Cripta dei Santi Protettori).
ART OF THE CATHEDRAL OF SAN CIRIACO
The Cathedral does not have a large number of paintings inside, and most of them are found in the apse area.
On the main altar, there is the Risen Christ, a painting created by Ercole Fava from Bologna, replacing a stucco depicting a similar subject, by Pellegrino Tibaldi.
On the sides, above the wooden choir behind it, there are two canvases by the painter Domenico Simonetti – The Coronation of the Virgin of the Assumption and The Apparition of the True Cross to Saint Cyriacus among the Saints Marcellinus, Liberius, Palazia and Lorenza.
To the right of the main altar, in the Chapel of San Lorenzo, is the Martyrdom of San Lorenzo, a faithful copy of the original painted by Francesco Podesti, which was lost following the bombings of the Second World War.
In the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, to the left of the altar, is the canvas by Filippo Bellini – Celebration of the Holy Mass for the souls in Purgatory.
HOW TO GET TO THE CATHEDRAL OF ANCONA
The Cathedral of San Ciriaco is located about 2.6 kilometers away from the Ancona railway station. The closest bus stop, Duomo, is located near the Cathedral, on the bus Line 11.
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