The Amalfi Cathedral
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Saint Andrea's Cathedral is by far the most important monument of the Amalfi Coast. It dominates Piazza del Duomo from the top of a high flight of steps, where one can always find newlyweds taking their wedding pictures. The Cathedral was built in IX century and dedicated to Amalfi's Saint Patron Andrea, unfortunately the original colourful and vibrant façade collapsed in 1861 and was refurbished and rebuilt by Enrico Alvino, Luigi della Corte and Guglielmo Raimondi in 1875-94. The steps lead to the colonnade atrium which was refurbished together with façade and now is decorated by white and black transversal marble bands and it is divided into two aisles by a set of columns.
The tympanum is decorated with a mosaic by Domenico Morelli representing Christ on a throne surrounded by symbols representing the Evangelists.
The steeple which dates back to 1180, in fact it is not properly aligned with the Churches left elevation, was further enlarged in 1276 with a bell cell, and this architectural intervention is underlined by an inscription on one of the walls of the cell. The steeple has an Arabic surrounding of towers and a small green and yellow majolica tiled dome. Duomo's architectural evolution went accordingly to Amalfi's development: originally there were two three-aisled basilicas. The most ancient one dating back 954.1004 was built by the Duke Mansone II whereas the second one was created in the IX century with a magnificent bronze front door forged in Constantinople before 1066.
The first most relevant changes to the dome were done in 1208 when Saint Andrea's relics were introduced into the Cathedral and the newly found importance implied that the church needed to expand and show its grandeur more effectively, therefore a unified Basilica with five aisles was designed to properly attend the due honours to the Saint.
Finally in 1703-1718 the last refurbishing hid all the medieval peculiarities and gave the Cathedral its widely famous Baroque appearance. On the inside there are important fresco paintings depicting the Virgin Mary and the Saint Patron. Like many other churches in the Amalfi Coast there is a substantial amount of Arabic decorations that strongly contrast with the baroque details of the altars and of the statues, however the Egypt red porphyry baptismal font increases the game of colours and nuances that make this cathedral a true synthesis of Amalfi's history and spirit.
The Duomo atrium leads on to the Chiostro del Paradiso (Heaven Cloister), which was created for the Archbishop Filippo Augustariccio who asked for a secluded burial area for nobles.
The cloister fell in disuse at the beginning of the XVII century and was refurbished in 1908, revealing the gorgeous arcades and pillars leading on to private chapels where noble families' members found burial. The cloister leads on to the Crucifixion Church which was also left in disuse for long time and in 1933 deprived of the baroque decorations, it was refurbished in 1996 giving back to Amalfi some incredible findings. Above all some of the Duomo's façade original mosaic fragments as well as Roman and Medieval marbles, but most impressively two roman sarcophaguses with mythological bas-reliefs. From the Crucifixion Church there is a staircase leading to the Duomo's Crypt where Saint Andrea's huge bronze statue is kept together with the Saint's relics. The Cathedral is a maze intertwining local history with Mediterranean culture, religion and art.
From the Basilica a short set of steps leads into the Crypt, which was built by Cardinale Pietro Capuano, who brought back S.Andrea’s relics after the IV Crusade and wanted a Crypt where to store and protect them. For this reason this is the most sacred place in Amalfi. . The story is narrated by Aniello Falcone ‘s 1610 fresco painting in the lunette on the right of the organ.
The massive bronze statute at the centre of the altar gives an idea of the strength of the local devotion to the Saint. The statue was created in 1604 by Michelangielo Naccherino who based his drawing on his master Michelangelo’s Mosè
On either sides of S.Andrea’s statue there are two further statures representing San Lorenzo and Santo Stefano which were made by the Bernini’s father. The three statues stand above the altar designed and created by Domenico Fontana. The crypt is a blaze of colours and images depicting Christ’s passion, in the vaults decorated with baroque stuccos which create astonishing plays of light bouncing from one lunette to the other enhancing the general feeling of spirituality.