Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Diocesi di Ivrea ( sec. V; X; XIX )
Via San Savino, Ivrea
The Roman ruins brought to light during the construction of the cathedral façade in the 19th century testify to the presence of a temple as early as the 1st century BC, which was transformed into a Christian church between the 4th and 5th centuries AD, when the Diocese of Ivrea was established. This building had the basilica layout typical of Early Christian churches.
The decision to enlarge and embellish the structure was taken by Bishop Warmondo, in the early 11th century. Parts of the original constructions have survived, including the apse, the two bell towers, the ambulatory behind the choir, and the oldest part of the crypt. These structures are some of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in the Canavese area.
During the 12th-century reconstruction, the cathedral changed appearance significantly, adopting a layout much more similar to that of today. The chancel was moved to the western edge of the nave, while the access portal went to the eastern side. The aisles were renovated and a transept was created, with a lantern at the crossing with the nave.
Between the 13th and 15th centuries there were modernizations of the decorative cycles, as can be seen in the murals visible inside the crypt, along the staircase to the ambulatory and in the ambulatory itself.
In 1516 Bishop Bonifacio Ferrero built a new frontage with a Bramante-style portico to replace the old Romanesque façade. In 1854 the façade was again replaced with the current Neoclassical version by the architect Gaetano Bertolotti, who used a Palladian model, extending the nave by one bay.
More extensive changes came about at the end of the 18th century, when Bishop Ottavio Pocchettini commissioned architect Giuseppe Martinez to remodel the building in Late Baroque style, which changed the building’s size and layout.
The cathedral interior is pure Late Baroque, characterized by tall pilasters, aisle arches supported by pairs of columns and pillars with Corinthian capitals, stuccowork, and a dome that conceals the lantern. From the nave there is a view of the chancel with its marble altar commissioned by Bishop Vittorio De Villa in the mid-18th century, and the choir stalls painted by Carlo Cogrossi. At the end of the left aisle there is the cathedral’s most important chapel, built between 1761 and 1763, which houses the relics of Saint Savinus, patron of Ivrea. Above the altar is an altarpiece by the Piedmontese painter Claudio Beaumont, depicting Saint Savinus kneeling before the Virgin and Child, with Theban martyrs Bessus and Tegulus, while a pair of angels unrolls the Holy Shroud below.
The crypt immediately reveals the difference between the more recent area (12th century) and the older section (late 10th–early 11th century). The latter has vaults supported by crudely cut pillars and columns of different shapes; the Roman sarcophagus of Caius Atecius Valerius (used for centuries as a funerary urn for the relics of Saint Bessus) is in the centre. The oldest fresco, dated to the 13th century, depicts a Virgin and Child with a bishop saint and a monk saint. The Virgin is reminiscent of Byzantine iconography, while the figure of the bishop saint is poised and stately.
The staircase leading to the ambulatory preserves an interesting fresco of the miracle of a resurrection attributed to the Blessed Peter of Luxembourg, painted by an unknown artist of the second half of the 15th century. Continuing along the ambulatory, the wall of the apse reveals columns and capitals from the construction of the late-4th–early-5th-century church. Between these columns there is also a plaque commemorating Warmondo’s renovation, dated during that same period.
|Lun-Dom||07:15 - 12:00||14:30 - 17:30|
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The building may be visited at the times indicated unless a religious function is in progress
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- Cattedrale di Ivrea
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- Via San Savino, Ivrea
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