Lucca has several attractive churches which are one of the main draws for tourists to the town. Sadly they were all closed when I visited during the Covid lockdown but I did get some nice shots of the stunning carvings on their facades. You’ll find all the churches below marked on my map.
St Martin’s Cathedral was founded in the sixth century but was completely rebuilt, beginning in 1060, and modified again (Romanesque facade, Gothic nave and transepts) between the 12th and 14th centuries. The facade, raised in 1204, is the work of Lombardian architect Guidetto.
Despite the loveliness of the cathedral, the most beautiful church in Lucca is generally considered to be San Michele in Foro, which was built over the former Roman forum, hence the name. The church has been around since at least 795 but was rebuilt after 1070. The stunning façade dates from the 13th century, although many of the sculptures and inlays were remade in the 19th century. The Latin cross layout is typical of Pisan Romanesque style (cf the arcaded facades and portal sculpture) which later developed into Gothic. The Gothic influenced facade has four loggias surmounted by a marble statue of the archangel Michael in the act of defeating a dragon. Guidetto also worked on the aisles and capitals but died before the facade was completed.
Chiesa di San Giusto, Piazza San Giusto
A small church in a small square dating from the second half of the 12th century but the interior is Baroque. The most interesting detail is the central portal (by Guidetto who worked on the cathedral facade) which once depicted two twisting atlases (one now missing) supporting two protruding lions either side of the lunette. Vegetable motifs and fantastical creatures feature in the rest of the decoration.
Chiesa di San Salvatore, 7 Piazza del Salvatore
In existence in 1009, this church was rebuilt in the 12th century and received a neo-medieval makeover in the 19th century. I was attracted by the bas-reliefs in the architraves on the facade and down the side of the church which were sculpted by Biduino in the second half of the 12th century, the themes of which relate to the cult of San Nicola.
Chiesa di Sant’Andrea, 14/16 Via Sant’Andrea
Rebuilt in the 12th century on top of a previous 10th century church, has an interesting sandstone facade. The central portal, with two lions fighting with two warrior figures either side of the lunette, is attributed to Guidetto.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Forisportam, Piazza Santa Maria Foris Portam
In existence by the 12th century this Pisan Romanesque church underwent lots of alterations in the 16th century. The name refers to the fact that in the Roman era, the church was located outside the then city walls, hence foris portam (out of town). Next time I want to see the camera obscura sundial inside.
There’s lots more to see of course. Hopefully next time I’m in town, when Covid is over and done, I’ll be able to see the treasures inside these churches.
More walking around Lucca next!