The Cathedral of San Lorenzo, dedicated to Saint Lawrence, deacon in the service of Pope Sixtus II, martyred in Rome in the year 258, is part of an architectural complex that, taken as a whole, is called the island of San Lorenzo or the castle of San Lorenzo.
A church was initially built in the 9th century on the ancient forum of the Etruscan city. It was then rebuilt between the 11th and the 12th century, to house the remains of the bishop Ercolano, martyred at the time of the Ostrogoths invasion, in the 6th century.
In 1300, the church was expanded, under the supervision of the benedictine monk Bevignate. A considerable time has passed between the planning and the completion of the work, two centuries later, in 1507.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, by the will of Cardinal Gioacchino Pecci, then bishop of Perugia and future pontiff, the cathedral received a neo-gothic appearance – the structure preserved to this day.
The Cathedral, with its southern façade, serves as a background to Piazza Maggiore, today Piazza IV Novembre, which gathers in a single space, at the same time functional and symbolic, the palaces of civil and ecclesiastical power, and the famous Fontana Maggiore, celebrating the civil and religious history of the city.
The architectural complex includes the Church, the Braccio Loggia and the Old Seminary, which was one of the first after the Council of Trent.
The church is built with cross vaults divided into three naves of the same height (24.90 meters), but of different width (the central one is double than the lateral ones), marked by ten octagonal pillars.
The slow construction is reflected in the lack of works of art from the 14th and early 15th centuries. Of subsequent periods, of particular interest is the painting of Berto di Giovanni, which depicts the city before the construction of the Rocca Paolina. Significant works are the Martyrdom of San Sebastiano by Orazio Alfani, the Stoning of San Stefano painted by Giovanni Baglione, the Deposition by Federico Barocci, and the monumental painting of the Madonna among the saints Agostino, Francesco and Domenico, by Giovanni Antonio Scaramuccia.
Impressive is the decoration of the great sacristy, created by Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi. The vaults and the walls of the sacristy tell the story of San Lorenzo, with references to the sacred history, episodes and figures of the Old Testament.
Between the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the vaults of the entire cathedral were frescoed, while the columns and pillars were decorated in faux marble.
The new millennium was inaugurated with a stained glass window by Nello Palloni, dedicated to the great jubilee of 2000, and a bronze door with high-reliefs by the sculptor Artemio Giovagnoni.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Perugia Cathedral is located in Piazza IV Novembre. The closest bus station is in P.G. Matteotti, about 200 meters away, that can be reached with the buses Z20 and Z21. For the precise directions, use the map below.