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Duomo di Orvieto

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Pope Urban IV ordered the erection of the Duomo di Orvieto, a Roman Catholic Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (Assumption of Mary). The construction lasted three centuries: the result  is a unique blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles.

The Duomo was built to commemorate the miracle of the Corporal of Bolsena. The legend says that in 1263 a priest who doubted about the truth of transubstantiation found his Host bleeding on the altar cloth. The miracle happened in Bolsena, a small town very close to Orvieto. A chapel was built to house the cloth: the Chapel of the Corporal.

The Duomo dominates the city.

The Gothic façade’s design includes elements from the 14th to the 20th century however it is considered one of the masterpieces of the late medieval period. The design is credited to the Sienese architect Lorenzo Maitani. The artist and his collaborators created the stunning bas-reliefs and statues with the Evangelists’ symbols that are considered between the most celebrated sculptures of the period. During the second half of the 14th century Matteo di Ugolino da Bologna added the Bronze Lamb of God and statue of Saint Michael. The Artist Cesare Nebbia designed the mosaics that were realized between 1350 and 1390. Unfortunately the mosaics were replaced several times in the centuries since. The Cathedral’s five bells were added during the renaissance period. The three bronze doors that give access to the church are the latest addition to the façade décor. The doors were completed only in 1970 by Emilio Greco, a Sicilian sculptor.

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The Duomo’s side walls are simply decorated with local basalt stone and white travertine.

The interior of the Cathedral is very spacious and neat. Its walls are like the exterior one adorned with travertine and alabaster. During the 19th century the top part of the walls were painted in black and white.

Throughout the 16th century many frescoes were covered with stucco.

The Chapel of the Corporal was built between 1350 and 1356; it houses the corporal of the miracle of Bolsena and the tomb of Pietro Parenzo a city’s major who was murdered in 1199.