The cathedral of Orvieto is one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of the late Middle Ages. On the beautiful Gothic facade they can admire architectural decorations ranging from the fourteenth to the twentieth century, including a large rose window, golden mosaics and three majestic bronze doors. The interior is embellished with two chapels frescoed by some of the greatest Italian painters of the period, among which you can see the famous Last Judgement by Luca Signorelli.
The cathedral of Orvieto was built on the orders of Pope Urban IV to commemorate and venerate properly the Corporal of Bolsena. The Miracle goes back to 1263, when a host had bled into the hands of a priest who doubted the dogma of transubstantiation. The blood also had stained the altar cloth, which is now preserved in the Chapel of the Corporal inside the cathedral.
The construction took three centuries. Originally the cathedral of Orvieto saw a succession of different architects, when it was replaced by Lorenzo Maitani accomplished.
The facade golden capture and enchant the eye. It is decorated with large statues and bas-reliefs with symbols of the evangelists, created by Maitani and collaborators between 1325 and 1330.
The bas-reliefs of marble pillars portray stories from the Old and New Testament. They are considered among the most famous of all the thirteenth century sculpture. It is a collective and anonymous, who have worked at least three or four master builders (including Maitani) with their assistants.
At the center of the mosaics you can admire the large rose window by the sculptor and architect Orcagna between 1354 and 1380. In the niches above the rose window there are the 12 apostles, and on both sides there are niches with 12 Old Testament prophets presented to couples.
The newer part of the decoration of the facade is made up of the three bronze doors that give access to the interior of the cathedral. They were built in 1970 by the Sicilian sculptor Emilio Greek and miracles depict the life of Christ. The doors are topped by a sculpture of the Madonna and Child by Andrea Pisano in 1347.
The side walls of the cathedral of Orvieto, in contrast to the facade, are decorated very simple, consisting of alternating bands of white travertine and basalt gray-blue.
The plan of the cathedral of Orvieto is a Latin cross with three naves. The interior is spacious, as the exterior is decorated with alternating bands of travertine and alabaster up to a height of 1.5 meters. Higher up, the walls were painted in alternating black and white stripes in the late nineteenth century.
Even the cylindrical columns have alternating bands of travertine and basalt.
The large window quadrifora apse was built between 1328 and 1334 by Giovanni di Bonino, glass master of Assisi, probably designed by Maitani.
The Gothic wooden choir was started in 1329 by Giovanni Ammannati with a team of carvers Siena.
The Chapel of the Corporal was built between 1350 and 1356 to house the corporal of the miracle of Bolsena. From this chapel the relic is carried in procession through the city during the major festivals.
The chapel is decorated with frescoes by artists Orvieto dating back to 1357-63. They depict the story of the miracle of Bolsena and other Eucharistic miracles.
The reliquary containing the body is a masterpiece of Gothic style in the form of a triptych, was built by the goldsmith Siena Ugolino di Vieri between 1337 and 1338. Show 24 scenes from the life of Christ and 8 stories regarding the corporal.
The Chapel of Our Lady of San Brizio, famous for its beautiful frescoes, the cathedral was added in the fourteenth century. It is separated from the rest of the cathedral by two iron gates.
The ceiling is decorated with frescoes by Fra Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli, Perugino and Luca Signorelli.
A Luca Signorelli was also commissioned the decoration of the large lunettes on the walls of the chapel: thus the frescoes of the Last Judgment (1500-1503), a masterpiece full of expressiveness and drama.