Salerno Cathedral

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St Matthew's Cathedral
Cathedral Church of Matthew the Apostle
Photo of St Matthew's
Location Salerno
Country Italy
Consecrated 1084
Style Romanesque
Years built 1080
Completed 1085
Diocese Salerno
Bell tower

Salerno Cathedral (or duomo) is the main church of the city of Salerno in southern Italy. It is considered the main tourist attraction of the city.

It is dedicated to Saint Matthew, one of the four Evangelists, whose tomb is inside the crypt.

The Cathedral was built at the center of Salerno, when the city was the capital of the Principality of Salerno in southern Italy (that stretched from the gulf of Naples to the Ionian sea).


Begun by Robert Guiscard in 1076 during the episcopate of Alfano I on a pre-existing church (in turn erected over a Roman temple's ruins), the Duomo was consecrated by Pope Gregory VII in 1084.

It was several times modified in the following centuries. In 1688 the architect Ferdinando Sanfelice remodeled in Neapolitan Baroque and Rococo Architecture the interior of the Duomo. Finally, a restoration in the 1930s brought it back to an appearance similar to the original one. Historically the Duomo is remembered as the initial symbol of the Italian Renaissance, because inside there it is the tomb of Pope Gregory VII, the Pope of Canossa who started the rejection from Italy of the German domination of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Duomo was damaged during the Operation Avalanche, when the Allies landed in Salerno in September 1943, during World War II.

Architectural features[edit]

One of the pulpits.

The most striking external feature is the bell tower (mid-12th century), with small arcades and mullioned windows, standing 56 m high and in Arabic-Norman style. It contains 8 large bells. The façade has a Romanesque portal with Byzantine-style bronze doors from Constantinople (1099), with 56 panels with figures, crosses and stories from Jesus's life. The entrance has a portico with 28 antique columns whose pointed arches, with lava rock intarsia, show influence of Arab art, and contains a series of ancient Roman sarcophagi.

The interior has a nave and two aisles, divided by pilasters in which the original columns are embedded, and three apses. Artworks include two pulpits with mosaic decorations, paintings by Francesco Solimena, a 14th-century Gothic statue of Madonna with Child and the sepulchres of the Neapolitan queen Margaret of Durazzo, of Roger Borsa and of archbishop Bartolomeo d'Arpano, and the tomb of Pope Gregory VII.

The Crypt

The crypt, believed to house the remains of Matthew the Apostle, is a groin vaulted hall with a basilica-like plan divided by columns. It was restored under design by Domenico Fontana and his son Giulio in 1606-1608, with marble decorations added in the 18th century. All of the ceiling frescoes are painted by Belisario Corenzio and depict scenes from the Gospel of Matthew, as well as some episodes of history of Salerno (such as the siege of the city by the French).

The Duomo Museum houses artworks from different ages, including the silver statues of the Salernitane Martyrs (13th century) and documents of the renowned Schola Medica Salernitana (the first University of Europe, according to some scholars like G. Crisci).


  • Crisci, Generoso (1962). Salerno sacra:ricerca storica. Salerno: Edizioni della Curia arcivescovile. 
  • Musi, Aurelio (1999). Salerno moderna. Salerno: Editore Avagliano. 

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