The gothic Cathedral of Orvieto

In Umbria we find the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta simply known as the “Cathedral of Orvieto”, a masterpiece of Italian Gothic architecture. It is a place of worship located in Orvieto in the province of Terni.


The works for the construction of the Cathedral of Orvieto began in 1290 by Pope Nicholas IV who wanted to give a worthy setting to the Corporal of Bolsena miracle. But it took centuries before the cathedral was fully completed. At first the works were entrusted to Bevignate from Perugia, after the naves and transept were built in the early years of the fourteenth century was called the Sienese sculptor and architect Lorenzo Maitani.

The latter became therefore the foreman and what he did was to expand in Gothic style the apse and the transept, he did not finish the facade but determined its appearance the we see today. After the death of Maitani in 1330, the works on the Cathedral of Orvieto were not absolutely completed, and many different foremen assumed the direction of the works, some of them for short periods.

The works on the construction of the cathedral continued over the years: in 1328-1335 was built the square stand, in 1335-1338 the transept was turned, in 1350-1356 was built the Chapel of the Corporal, 1350-1365 the new Sacristy, 1408-1444 the new Chapel or San Brizio (later frescoed). The same thing is true also for the facade, it took years to complete it and only in the second half of 1500 the works were completed by Ippolito Scalza, he built three of the four steeples that we see on the facade. It should be highlighted that the Cathedral has 5 Renaissance bells that are in the key of E flat.

The Cathedral of Orvieto, what we can see

The facade is divided into three sectors by four vertical beam buttresses and each one ends with a magnificent spire. On the facade of Orvieto Cathedral we find:

  • The mosaics made by various authors.
  • On the lower area we find the bas-reliefs that decorate the 4 pillars, beautiful examples of Gothic sculpture in Italy describing the destiny of man, from the Creation to the Crack of Doom.
  • In the upper area stand out the magnificent rose window by Andrea di Cione, known as Orcagna (who also made the two side pinnacles) and the magnificent mosaics.
  • Several magnificent bronze statues.

While inside there are:

  • The presbytery
  • The Chapel of the Corporal
  • The Chapel of San Brizio
  • Pipe Organ
  • And several other works of art.


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