Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Diocesi di Aosta ( sec. IV; XI; XIX )
Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII, 11100 Aosta
Aosta’s cathedral has ancient origins, associated with the initial stages of the diffusion of Christianity in the region. It was founded near the old Roman forum complex at the end of the 4th century, when the diocese was probably established. Rebuilding commenced at the end of the 10th century and was completed around 1065, several decades later. Much of the Romanesque building can still be seen: the basilica plan with nave and two aisles, the crypt, the two eastern bell towers and the great square piers. However, the Romanesque church ended in a massive semicircular apse on the western side, flanked by two bell towers mirroring those on the eastern side. As in the Early Christian building, the entrance was on the southern side. The great rebuilding of the 11th century involved important craftsmen and painters, who decorated the walls of the nave. Part of the upper register of the complex fresco cycle can still be seen in the attic today: a frieze with arches with the figures of the forefathers of Christ and the legend of Saint Eustace on the northern wall, and portraits of ecclesiastic personages and Old and New Testament scenes on the southern one. The mosaics adorning the floors and the ambulatory, with radial chapels that replaced the eastern Romanesque apses, are among the most important changes and embellishments made in the 12th and 13th centuries, which culminated in the demolition of the massive western structure, the construction of the ribbed cross vaults and the erection of a new façade, between 1522 and 1526, whose decoration with frescoes and terracotta sculptures was entrusted to the Lombard painter Ambrogio Bellazzi da Vigevano. The new marble high altar, by Lugano sculptor Francesco Albertolli, was installed in the mid-18th century (1758), while the Neoclassical façade designed by the architect Gayo (1846–48) and the Neogothic chapel dedicated to the Holy Rosary (1862) are dated a century later.
The dedication of Aosta Cathedral to the Virgin Mary is evident from the frescoes and sculptural groups that adorn the 16th-century vestibule on the façade by the painter Ambrogio Bellazzi da Vigevano. The painted scenes of the Annunciation, Nativity, Presentation in the Temple, and Circumcision are completed by terracotta figures, sculpted in the round, of the apostles gathered around the empty tomb, and the Virgin of the Assumption in Heaven between two angels, housed in the triangular pediment. Once inside the building, visitors can admire the baptismal font of the old Early Christian cathedral at the beginning of the nave. Octagonal and measuring almost two metres across, the base was originally covered with small slabs of local marble. The current baptistery is situated in the chapel of the left aisle, which houses the stone font dated 1652. Two side chapels dedicated to the cathedral’s most important saints open off the right aisle. The first, built in 1706, is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, patron of the parish based in the cathedral itself. A precious 15th-century head reliquary, housed in the Treasure Museum, is said to contain the saint’s jawbone. The second chapel, founded in 1644, is dedicated to Saint Gratus, patron of the diocese and Bishop of Aosta in the 5th century. The saint’s relics are preserved and worshipped in precious reliquaries, including the bust donated by Amadeus VIII of Savoy and the monumental casket completed in 1458 by the Flemish goldsmith Jean de Malines. The chancel is dominated by the imposing crucifix of the triumphal arch, installed in 1397. The back panels of the wooden choir, dating from 1469, are carved with alternating figures of apostles, prophets and the principal Valle d’Aosta saints.
|Lun-Dom||07:00 - 12:00||15:00 - 19:00|
The building may be visited at the times indicated unless a religious function is in progress
- Cattedrale di Aosta
- type of building
- Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII, 11100 Aosta
- food venue
|Intero||4.0 €||Ingresso al museo del Tesoro|
|Intero||4.0 €||visita agli affreschi del sottotetto|
|intero (complessivo)||5.0 €||Ingresso al Museo del Tesoro e visita agli affreschi del sottotetto|
|gratuito||--||ragazzi sotto i 12 anni (Museo del Tesoro e affreschi del sottotetto)|