A precious corner of the city near the Renaissance wall.
Entering from Porta San Pietro, you can reach the cathedral with its treasures just in a few minutes.
The Cathedral of San Martino is the result of several renovations that took place over the centuries.
In the 14th century, the particular asymmetrical portico and the rich facade decorated with sculpted figures in relief and inlay were added. You could spend hours trying to distinguish the figures of a bestiary between domestic and wild animals, fish, birds, plants of all kinds mixed with characters from biblical or Church-related episodes.
Among these, St. Martin, in the famous episode that represents him sharing his cloak with a poor man. A little further up the portrait of the architect, Guidetto da Como, who is depicted in a corner, holding a cartouche that stands for his parternity of the works. Inside the cathedral, two symbolic works of art of the city: the funeral monument of Ilaria del Carretto, a Renaissance masterpiece by Jacopo della Quercia, celebrated by poets and writers, and the "Volto Santo" a 10th century wooden cross venerated in antiquity by the pilgrims who travelled along Via Francigena on their way to Rome.
On one side of the facade, the bell tower joins the atrium of the Cathedral to the thirteenth-century building that once housed the Opera del Duomo, the cathedral works commission.
From the top of the bell tower you can enjoy a splendid view of the city and the hills towards south, Mount Pisano. On the south side of the church, in the Museum of the Cathedral of Lucca the furnishings from the early Middle Ages for the performance of solemn liturgical functions in the Cathedral are collected, including silk vestments and chasubles, embellished with decorative floral and geometric embroidery. A remarkable testimony of Lucca's high quality textile activities at that time.
The splendid treasures of the Volto Santo, the sacred cross of Lucca, are kept in a dedicated room. The ornaments, still used today on May 3 and September 14 to "dress" the venerated simulacrum, include the fourteenth-century frieze of the robe, the sumptuous crown in gold and precious stones and the mid-seventeenth-century collar with a creative jewel embellished with diamonds and enamels referable to the French goldsmith Gilles Légaré who worked at the court of the Sun King.
On the north side of the Cathedral there is Piazza Antelminelli with a neoclassical fountain designed by Lorenzo Nottolini, the arrival point of the monumental aqueduct coming from Mount Pisano, Palazzo and Giardino Bernardi, now Micheletti, built in the second half of the sixteenth century on a design by Ammannati. On the square, every third Sunday of the month (and the previous Saturday) is held one of the largest antique markets in Tuscany where you can browse through souvenirs and vintage objects of all kinds.
Next to the Palace you’ll find the Church of the Saints Giovanni and Reparata with the adjoining Baptistery, founded in the fourth century and a bishopric until the eighth century. Thanks to the archaeological excavations of the subsoil, important events in the architectural history of the city could be reconstructed.