Nestled in the beautiful region of Emilia-Romagna is the Duomo di parma, a 12th Century cathedral adorned with striking examples of Renaissance art and ornate Romanesque architecture.
The demure exterior of this cathedral is somewhat deceiving, with its sand-coloured walls and intricate columns providing only the merest hint of the regal beauty and mediaelval marvels that reside inside. The interior reveals a Latin cross plan and is filled with elegantly curved arches. The Duomo di Parma is a prime example of Romanesque architecture, characeristic of the Middle Ages European style the Italian love. It is a conventional cathedral with a long nave covered in frescoes of all of Christ’s life, such as the crucifixion and the Last Supper. Painted prophets perch on clouds under the corner of each mural.
The Parma cathedral (Duomo di Parma in Italian) is famed for its beautifully preserved frescoes painted by influencial Italian Renaissance artists, some of which you can see in the above image. The most famous of all is Antonio Correggio’s illusionistic Assunzione della Vergine (Assumption of the Virgin) that decorates the central dome celing, providing a kaleidoscope masterpiece of the Virgin Mary ascending through a sea of cherubs, angels and swirling drapery. Two marble lions provide a striking presence at the cathedral entrance, and support the archivolt columns.
Throughout the interior you’ll see evidence of past Italian eras showcased in the breathtaking architecture and the peering faces of angelic beings. Outside, the cathedral, which resides in the Piazza Duomo, supports a striking gothic belltower and is flanked by an octagonal baptistery made from pink Verona marble and a stern medieval palazzo.
The construction of the Duomo di Parma began in 1059 by bishop Cadalo, later antipope with the name of Honorius II, and was consecrated by Paschal II in 1116. An early basilica existed in the 6th century but was later abandoned. Unfortunately the new church had to be rebuilt after an earthquake in 1117. Some off the original building remains can be viewed in the presbytery, transept, the choir and the apses, and also in some sculpture fragments. The wide façade was completed in 1178: it has three loggia floors and three portals, whose doors were sculpted by Luchino Bianchino in 1494. Between the central and the right doors is the tomb of the mathematician Biagio Pelacani, who died in 1416. Beside the Cathedral lies the octagonal Baptistry of Parma.
Parma cathedral is well worth a visit on your travels and will provide you with a welcome break from the warm Italian weather outside! While you are inside, take time to study the frescoes and renaissance artwork and enjoy one of Italy’s most celebrated cathedrals.
Image credit: Art History Images (Holly Hayes)