According to tradition, the Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours, was founded by San Frediano in the 6th century, then rebuilt by Anselmo da Baggio, Bishop of the city, in 1060, and finally remodeled in its current form in the 12th and 13th centuries.
In the 8th century, the Church of San Martino received the title of Cathedral from the Church of San Giovanni and Santa Reparata, located nearby.
The Cathedral was completely rebuilt starting with 1060, and solemnly consecrated in 1070 by Anselmo da Baggio, who, at the time of the consecration, was Pope Alexander II, but also kept the title of Bishop of Lucca.
In 1204, Guido Bigarelli of Como began the work on the facade. In 1372, two years after the liberation from the Pisan domination, the apse of the church and the wall of the transept were completed in Gothic style. The works were finished around 1390.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The main facade of the church was begun in 1204 by Guido Bigarelli of Como. The facade consists of a vast portico with three magnificent arches, and above them three orders of galleries adorned with sculptures.
To the right of the facade stands the bell tower with a quadrangular base and five orders of polifore (multi-light windows). Its upper crown is made up of Ghibelline merlons.
The Cathedral has a Latin cross plan with three naves. The two side naves are surmounted by false matroneums (galleries) with Gothic trifore (three-light windows). The central nave is completed by a semicircular apse illuminated by three large Romanesque windows. The apse is entirely occupied by the presbytery, at the center of which is the high altar in polychrome marble. The transept, of the same height as the central nave, is divided into two other naves.
In the left aisle, a small octagonal chapel contains the most precious relic in Lucca, the Holy Face of Lucca (Volto Santo di Lucca), a wooden crucifix with the image of Christ which, according to legend, was carved by his contemporary, Nicodemus, and miraculously brought to Lucca in 742. The chapel was built in 1484 by Matteo Civitali, the most famous sculptor of the early Renaissance in Lucca.
In a room near the sacristy, there is the funeral monument of Ilaria del Carretto, created by the sculptor Jacopo della Quercia between 1406 and 1408. Ilaria was the wife of Paolo Guinigi, Lord of Lucca between 1400 and 1430. The sarcophagus depicts the girl in a sleeping pose, richly dressed and lying on a catafalque. At her feet, lies a dog, a symbol of marital fidelity.
In the Cathedral, we can also find the Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saints by Domenico Ghirlandaio, painted around 1479.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Cathedral of San Martino is located about 700 meters away from the Lucca railway station. The closest bus stop is Della Rosa, on the bus Line LAM Rossa, located about 120 meters away.