The Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence Cathedral) is a 12th century church in Viterbo.
Viterbo has two patron saints, Lawrence and Rosa. Its cathedral is dedicated only to San Lorenzo, however.
Before the cathedral was constructed there had already existed another church in the same spot, probably built around 850.
In 1181 Pope Alexander III pronounced it the most important church in the area. Later it became the official Bishop’ seat, but it was not until the middle of the 13th century that the Cathedral of Viterbo became really influential, as the Pope’s presence in the Palazzo dei Papi made the city into a religious and also political center.
Although the roof and the nave of the church were damaged during World War II bombings, they were subsequently restored, in accordance with an earlier design.
The cathedral’s bell-tower, which was added in the 13th century, is typical of Umbrian and Tuscan churches of the period, with stripes of alternating colors.
The frescoes in the first chapel on the right originate in the 14th century.
An Englishman, who was murdered in the Viterbese church of San Silvestro, used to be buried in the cathedral. A plaque bearing the inscription ‘Enrico di Cornovaglia‘ is a reminder of this.
Tourist attractions near the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo
- The museum next to the cathedral, called the Museo del Colle del Duomo (literally ‘museum of the hill of the cathedral’) exhibits treasures originally found in the cathedral itself. Apart from various works of art, there is also a 16th century reliquary containing Saint John the Baptist‘s chin.