Before the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Novara was constructed, there used to be another church in the same spot. The present version was designed by Alessandro Antonelli, whose project included the destruction of the old one and a complete reorganization of the are around the church.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta Novara
Address: Piazza della Repubblica – Novara. Phone: +39 339 8125602. Opening times: From 09:00 till 12:00 and from 15:00 till 18:00. Ticket price: Free.
History and description
The original, Romanesque style cathedral had been constructed towards the very end of the 11th century. Pope Innocent II consecrated this version in 1132.
The side chapels were added in the 15th century.
In 1580, the old apse was destroyed and replaced by a new choir.
Benedetto Alfieri gave the decorations a Baroque facelift in the 18th century, leaving the structure intact, however.
The architectural style of the cathedral as designed by Antonelli is neo-classical. The church is flanked by two towers and preceded by a pronaos.
Antonelli’s ideas for a new choir and transept were never fulfilled.
The three naves are separated by massive columns.
What to see
The Duomo itself is decorated with paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrari, Bernardino Lanino and Gerolamo Giovenone (1490-1555).
The side aisles are separated from the central nave by six 16th century Flemish tapestries.
The floor of the raised presbytery is decorated with a mosaic dating back to 1132. It depicts Adam and Eve and the four rivers of Paradise.
A Titian painting in the Chapel of San Giuseppe was destroyed in a fire in the 17th century. It was replaced by an “Adoration of the Three Kings” by Carlo Francesco Nuvolone.
Antonelli was responsible for the main altar. He did this in 1836, when renovation work on the Cathedral was still overseen by Melchioni.
The complex houses a Biblioteca Capitolare and a Treasury.
The portico on the Piazza della Repubblica side gives access to the churchyard, which is bordered by another portico.
In the Museo Lapidario in the cloister you can see sarcophagi, inscriptions and other architectural elements dating back to early Christian, and even Roman and Etruscan times.
San Siro Oratory
The 12th century Oratorio di San Siro is right next to the sacristy of the Duomo. It is decorated with a fresco cycle depicting events in the life of St. Syros.