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Cathedral of St Martin

Visit one of Lucca’s most sacred religious icons, an impressive building that is almost a millennium old.

The Cathedral of St. Martin has been part of Lucca since the 11th century. The elaborate architectural designs come from renovation work from the 12th century onward as little remains of the original building. Housed within is an ancient venerated crucifix. 

Give yourself a few minutes to look over the building's exterior. Start at the upper levels to see columns covered in sculptures or carved with geometric patterns. Look at the unusual capitals with their grotesque figures of animals and humans. Bring a pair of binoculars with you or a camera with a good zoom lens to study the designs up close.

Focus on the three arches of the lower part of the façade and note the asymmetrical design, as the right arch is smaller than the other two. On the right side of the center arch is a statue of St. Martin to whom the cathedral is dedicated. He is on horseback dividing his cloak with a beggar. The statue is a replica of the 13th-century original that is kept just inside the main entrance. Observe the bas-reliefs decorating the porch, including the depiction of the beheading of St. Regulus by the Goths.

On entering the cathedral go to the small octagonal chapel that contains one of Lucca’s most sacred relics, the Volto Santo di Lucca (Holy Face of Lucca). This is a carved wooden crucifix with a detailed effigy of Jesus Christ. According to legend it was carved by Nicodemus who helped prepare Jesus’s body for burial. Scholars believe the cross to be a copy of the original creation.

Pay a small charge to visit the tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, an Italian noblewoman who died in 1405. The beautiful marble sarcophagus has an effigy of Ilaria lying on the lid with a dog resting at her feet. The sides are decorated with figures of nude cherubs.

The Cathedral of St. Martin is open daily. The church is located at the eastern end of Piazza San Martino, a short walking distance from Lucca’s train station.


Guide to Exploring Cathedral of St Martin


Map

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Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell'Alba £104
Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell'Alba

Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell'Alba

Via Del Fosso 26, Lucca, LU
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    This family-friendly Lucca hotel is located in the historical district, within a 10-minute walk of Villa Bottini, Guinigi Tower and Piazza dell'Anfiteatro. Basilica of San Frediano and Church of San Michele in Foro are also within 10 minutes. Lucca Station is 11 minutes by foot.

    Albergo Celide & SPA £105
    Albergo Celide & SPA

    Albergo Celide & SPA

    Viale Giuseppe Giusti 25, Lucca, LU
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Lucca Historical Center, this spa hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Walls of Lucca, Guinigi Tower and Cathedral of St Martin. Piazza dell'Anfiteatro and Church of San Michele in Foro are also within 1 mile (2 km). Lucca Station is 10 minutes by foot.

      Palazzo Alexander Hotel £116
      Palazzo Alexander Hotel

      Palazzo Alexander Hotel

      Via Santa Giustina 48, Lucca, LU
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Lucca Historical Center, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Lucca City Hall and Church of San Michele in Foro. Palazzo Pfanner and Guinigi Tower are also within 10 minutes. Lucca Station is 15 minutes by foot.

        Palazzo Dipinto £131
        Palazzo Dipinto

        Palazzo Dipinto

        Piazza del Palazzo Dipinto, 27, Lucca
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Lucca Historical Center, this hotel is steps away from Puccini Museum and Church of San Michele in Foro. Palazzo Pfanner and Guinigi Tower are also within 10 minutes. Lucca Station is 12 minutes by foot.

          Albergo San Martino £82
          Albergo San Martino

          Albergo San Martino

          Via Della Dogana 9, Lucca, LU
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Lucca Historical Center, this hotel is steps away from Teatro del Giglio, Cathedral of St Martin and Piazza Napoleone. Church of San Michele in Foro and Guinigi Tower are also within 10 minutes. Lucca Station is 7 minutes by foot.

            Eurostars Toscana £52
            Eurostars Toscana

            Eurostars Toscana

            Viale Europa 1135, Lucca, LU
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Lucca Historical Center, this hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Porta San Pietro, Cathedral of St Martin and Church of San Michele in Foro. Palazzo Pfanner and Guinigi Tower are also within 2 miles (3 km). Lucca Station is 18 minutes by foot.

              Hotel Rex £84
              Hotel Rex

              Hotel Rex

              Piazzale Bettino Ricasoli 19, Lucca, Toscana
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Lucca Historical Center, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Walls of Lucca, Cathedral of St Martin and Piazza Napoleone. Guinigi Tower and Church of San Michele in Foro are also within 15 minutes. Lucca Station is only a 1-minute walk.

                At Home Bed and Breakfast £57
                At Home Bed and Breakfast

                At Home Bed and Breakfast

                Via Anfiteatro 32, Lucca, LU
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Lucca Historical Center, this guesthouse is steps away from Lucca Roman Amphitheatre, Piazza dell'Anfiteatro and Basilica of San Frediano. Guinigi Tower and Palazzo Pfanner are also within 5 minutes. Lucca Station is 13 minutes by foot.