The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Lawrence, deacon in the service of Pope Sixtus II, martyred in Rome in the year 258. The church is part of a larger architectural complex which, taken as a whole, is known as the Island of San Lorenzo or the Castle of San Lorenzo.
A church was built on this area in the 9th century, on the remains of the ancient forum of the Etruscan city.
The church was rebuilt later, between the 11th and the 12th centuries, to house the remains of the bishop Ercolano, martyred during the Ostrogoth invasion, in the 6th century.
At the beginning of the 14th century, the church was expanded under the supervision of the Benedictine monk Bevignate of Cingoli. A considerable time passed between the planning and the completion of the works, two centuries later, in 1507.
In the second half of the 19th century, by the will of Cardinal Gioacchino Pecci, then bishop of Perugia and future pontiff, the cathedral received a Neo-Gothic appearance, which was preserved to this day.
Unlike most Italian cathedrals, the Cathedral of Perugia doesn’t have its main facade oriented towards the main square of the city, Piazza IV Novembre. Instead, the secondary facade of the church overlooks the square, also facing Palazzo dei Priori and the famous Fontana Maggiore.
The architectural complex includes the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence, Loggia di Braccio – the loggia commissioned by Braccio da Montone in 1423, and the Old Seminary, which was one of the first seminary created after the Council of Trent.
The main facade of the cathedral, overlooking the small Piazza Ignazio Danti, is characterized by a Baroque portal designed in 1729 by Pietro Carattoli.
Inside, the church has three naves with cross vaults, divided by large octagonal pillars. The naves have the same height (24.90 meters) but different width – the central one is double than the lateral ones.
The slow construction of the cathedral is reflected in the lack of works of art from the 14th and early 15th centuries. From the following centuries, of particular interest is the painting of Berto di Giovanni, which depicts the city before the construction of Rocca Paolina.
Other 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 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 depict the story of San Lorenzo, with references to the sacred history, episodes and figures of the Old Testament.
Between the late 18th and the 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 by a bronze door with high-reliefs by the sculptor Artemio Giovagnoni.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo is located about 1.8 kilometers away from the Perugia railway station. The closest bus stop is in Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, about 200 meters away, on the bus Lines Z2 and Z20.
Find a place to stay