The Cathedral of Amalfi
What to see on the Amalfi Coast? Among the must-see attractions is undoubtedly the splendid Cathedral of Amalfi, also known as the Cathedral of Sant’Andrea. The majestic building, located in the square of the same name, is one of the symbols of the town and one of the most loved and photographed monuments on the entire coast. Perched at the top of a scenic flight of steps, it immediately strikes the eye with its monumental polychrome façade.
The architectural complex actually consists of two formerly separate buildings. The cathedral was built by Duke Mansion I from 987 onwards next to the ancient Basilica of the Crucifix, built in the 9th century on the remains of an early Christian temple. However, its current appearance is the result of various renovations. Predominantly Arab-Norman Romanesque architectural style, it has features ranging from Baroque to Rococo.
The cathedral is flanked by a beautiful bell tower covered in mosaic tiles, built in several stages between the 12th and 13th centuries. The colourful façade, as we see it today, was built in the 19th century by architect Errico Alvino, after it suffered serious damage following a collapse. It features a rich mosaic representing Christ enthroned amidst the Evangelists, the work of Domenico Morelli. Among the valuable elements, one cannot fail to mention the wonderful bronze door from Constantinople.
The interior, which still shows some traces of the original structure, is characterised by Baroque forms, magnificent marble and elegant ornaments. The high altar is surmounted by a large canvas depicting The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew the Apostle, a copy by Mattia Preti. A large number of chapels open along the side walls, where valuable paintings from the 17th-18th centuries and marble and wooden sculptures from various periods are preserved.
Along the right wall, a flight of steps leads to the Crypt of St Andrew below, built in the early 13th century at the behest of Cardinal Pietro Capuano. Inside are the relics of the saint, which, according to tradition, were transported from Constantinople on their return from the Fourth Crusade. The crypt is decorated with a series of frescoes, including one by Aniello Falcone in the 17th century, which recalls the arrival of St Andrew’s body in the cathedral. In the crypt, during the celebrations on 30 November, the miracle of the manna takes place: a miraculous oily substance emerges from the saint’s tomb.
To the left of the portico is the famous Paradise Cloister, the ancient cemetery of the nobles of Amalfi built in 1268 by Bishop Filippo Augustariccio. The complex represents one of the greatest examples of Amalfi Romanesque architecture. At the back you can admire some funeral chapels built between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 16th century. These include the one with the fresco of Christ Pantocrator and the one with the Crucifixion attributed to Roberto d’Oderisio.
Since 1996, the Basilica of the Crucifix has housed the Diocesan Museum, which contains silverware, sacred vestments, crosses and reliquaries belonging to the cathedral treasury, as well as various sculptures and paintings. Among the countless objects preserved are a mitre from the 13th century, a silver altar frontal from the 18th century and a cassette reliquary with the Holy Manna from the 15th century.