The Duomo di San Lorenzo is located in the square of the same name in Viterbo. Especially from the half of the 13th century, when a succession of popes had their residence in the city, this cathedral was very important.
San Lorenzo Cathedral Viterbo
Address, opening hours and admission fee
The address of the San Lorenzo Cathedral is Piazza San Lorenzo – Viterbo. Opening hours: 10:00-13:00 and 16:00-19:00. In winter, the cathedral closes one hour earlier. Closed: Monday.
History and description
On the site of the Cathedral there used to be an Etruscan temple dedicated to Hercules. On the ruins of this temple the first version of the San Lorenzo Church was built in 850. This church was continually enlarged until it became the Cathedral of Viterbo.
The Cathedral as it can be seen today dates back to the 12th century. By the end of the century it became the official bishop’s seat of Viterbo.
By the mid-13th century, the presence of popes in the Palazzo dei Papi began to make its influence felt and Viterbo became increasingly important. As many as seven popes were crowned there and also politically, with the excommunication of Corradino di Svevia, the city took a central role.
The church consists of three naves with three apses. The central apse protrudes further than the other two. The transept was added in 1192 and is lower than the nave.
The black and white striped bell tower is a 13th century addition and is decorated with a four rows of biforas. In the mid-15th century, the top was added.
In the 15th century, Pope Pius II had the roof rebuilt and later the side chapels were added.
The facade was completely rebuilt in 1579. The three rose windows that were there were replaced with oculi.
The steps leading up to the entrance were added in 1933.
The interior of the church is divided into three naves, separated by two rows of columns. The capitals of these columns are all different. The central nave is graced by a Cosmatesque floor and an equally beautiful wooden ceiling.
What to see
On the façade you can read the words Car Gamb. These refer to Cardinal Gambara, who was responsible for a renovation of the facade of the cathedral (as well as for several other monuments in Viterbo).
On the left wall there is a reproduction of a painting representing “Santa Maria della Carbonara”. This painting originally used to be in the church of this name. The original can be seen in the Museo del Colle del Duomo.
Near the entrance (left nave) is the stone tomb of Pope John XXI. Also on display here are two plaques for Pope Alexander IV and Clement IV.
Other highlights are the chapel of Santa Caterina (right nave) and the chapel of the Santi Valentino and Ilario (right nave).
The Santa Lucia Chapel is decorated with a number of Baroque frescoes.
The large chapel behind the rectory was painted by Giuseppe Passeri. Themes of these frescoes from the 17th century are “The Day of Judgment” and “The Cardinal Virtues.”
- “The Holy Family and San Bernardino” (Giovan Francesco Romanelli, 17th century).
- “San Lorenzo in Glory” (also by Romanelli).
- “The Redeemer between San Giovanni Evangelista and San Leonardo”.