morning. The Cathedral and its museums
The Modena Cathedral is an outstanding example of Romanesque art and is known the world over. Its audacious architecture has amazed visitors for centuries. The Cathedral was designed by the great architect, artist, and builder Lanfranco, who incorporated the artistry of another outstanding master, the sculptor Wiligelmo and the first stone in the construction of the Cathedral was laid on June 9, 1099.
Wiligelmo and his school created the ornate corbels and the capitals atop the columns, the main door, the reliefs illustrating the Book of Genesis on the façade, the Porta della Pescheria (the Fish Market Gate) on the Cathedral’s northern side and the Porta dei Principi (Princes’ Gate) on the southern side.
The so-called “Campionese-masters,” who continued work on the Cathedral more than a century later, designed the wide Porta Regia that opens out onto Piazza Grande, the beautiful rose window on the façade, and, inside the Cathedral, the marble parapet that separates the sanctuary from the nave.
The exterior of the Cathedral, built to honor St. Geminianus (San Geminiano), the Bishop and patron saint of Modena, is fashioned of stone from the Roman-era city Mutina (the ancient name for Modena). Called a “Bible in Stone” for its astonishing depictions-in-relief of stories from the Bible, the Cathedral today speaks of faith and of life on Earth just as it has for centuries.
A few steps from Modena Cathedral, almost directly in front of the Porta della Pescheria (the Fish Market Gate), are the Museums of the Cathedral, and we suggest paying them a visit to round out your experience.
The Museums of the Cathedral are dedicated to the history of the Cathedral and are divided into two collections: the Lapidary Museum and the Museum of the Modena Cathedral. Among other treasures, the Lapidary Museum houses the famous “metopes,” eight sculptural reliefs that depict monstrous and imaginary beings and which originally appeared on the roof projections. The Museum of the Modena Cathedral exhibits art works and furnishings that bear witness to the Cathedral’s vitality over the centuries.
When lunchtime rolls around, you’ll have nothing but choice when it comes to finding a place to enjoy a tasty time-out.