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Barga 3

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Barga's cathedral was built over four distinct periods. Construction began before the year 1000. During the 12th century, the church was enlarged and modified in the Romanesque style and monofore (narrow slit windows) in Egyptian alabaster were added.

In the 13th century, the church was enlarged yet again in keeping with the popular Gothic style of the times. Characteristic ogive arched windows were incorporated during this renovation. Construction was finally completed between the 1500 and 1600 with the addition of two chapels and the choir.

The choir area is situated behind the altar. Above it is a niche holding a large wooden statue of St. Christopher, patron saint of Barga. The statue is believed to have been carved around the year 1000. Above it is an oval glass window from the 14th century showing the Holy Family similar in design to that in the Convent of St. Elizabeth in Barga and attributed to Lorenzo di Gredi.

On each side of the choir area are two chapels. The Holy Sacrament Chapel is on the left. Above the altar is a painting of the Holy Virgin, with St. Sebastian and St. Roche on each side. The painting was commissioned in 1527 by the people of Barga during a severe epidemic of cholera and has been carefully restored after being found badly neglected in the nearby Church of San Francesco. Our Lady’s Chapel is on the right. Above its 6th century altar is a painting of St. Joseph, St. Roche and St. Anthony – the background shows Barga in the 5th century.

From the cathedral belltower the bells ring out every hour and are heard over a radius of several miles. The bells inspired Giovanni Pascoli to write the poem, 'L'Ora di Barga'. The duomo (cathedral) was damaged in the earthquake of 1920 and has since been restored. .

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The pulpit (below) designed and built by Guido Bigiarelli da Como (12th century) features four supporting column of red marble.

The two front columns rest on statues of lions, again symbolizing the strength of the Christian faith. One of the lions has a dragon underneath, symbolizing evil. The other depicts a man caressing the lion with one hand while trying to stab it with the other, symbolizing eretics. One of the rear columns rests on the shoulder of a dwarf, symbolizing the pagan world, while the other rests on the floor.

At the rear of the pulpit is a bas-relief depicting the prophet Isaiah's announcing of the coming of the Messiah; on the side facing the main door two more bas-reliefs depict the Annunciation and the birth of Christ. The remaining side shows the Adoration of the Three Kings and scenes from the Gospel.

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Returning to the outside of the building (left) the adjacent terrace offers extensive views of the town and surrounding countryside (below right)

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The visit to Barga continues on the next page.
Please click on the 'Next' button (lower right).


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