Built over an ancient Roman construction around 857, the Cathedral owes its more clearly Romanesque appearance of today to later transformations. It has a gabled fa¸ade, typical of the Romanesque style, which is brought to life by arcades and two large oculi.
Romanesque facade with marble decorations by Clemente, 16th century
Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the style of the Cathedral was suited to fit architectural canons of the time. Sculptor Prospero Sogari, known as il Clemente, directed the work which would, however, remain unfinished (1577). Sogari is responsible for the statues of Adam and Eve placed over the central portal, as well as for the Saints Crisanto and Daria, and Saints Venerius and Gioconda, located at the sides of the portal between the bands of marble covering the median surfaces of the façade, inside the niches.
Closeup of 16th century marble decorations by Clemente
Prospero Sogari (known as Clemente), Statue of Adam, 1552-57
In the original tower which soars over the façade, a statue of Madonna and Child with the Fiordibelli couple (benefactors) stands out. The statue is a masterpiece of goldsmithing by Bartolomeo Spani (goldsmith, sculptor, and architect who lived between the 14-1500s).
Complex of the Duomo as seen from the top of the tower of the Basilica di San Prospero
Bartolomeo Spani, Madonna Enthroned with Child and the Fiordibelli brothers, 1522-23
The façade was adorned with frescos from the late 13th century which are now held at the Capitular Library.
The inside of the Cathedral is based on a basilican floor-plan with a nave and two aisles. Of particular interest is the crypt, built around the 12th or 13th century, designed with a cross vault supported by 42 columns with fragmentary capitals, most of which are from the 1400s (two bear the date 1491) though some are older. The oldest part is that with the altar, which contains the tomb of Martyred Saints Crisanto and Daria. General restoration took place in 1923. During that work, a substantial fragment of Roman flooring was found (mosaic from the 3rd or 4th century), which leads down a small staircase from the floor of the crypt to an underground space. Geometric figures and animals, including a deer at a spring, can be recognized in the mosaic. The crypt consists of three chapels: the central chapel contains the sepulchre of martyrs Crisanto and Daria; the right-hand chapel contains a war memorial, decorated by A. Govi in 1923, with a staircase underneath that leads to the tomb of the Bishops; in the left-hand chapel, a bas relief shows two of the Three Wise Men (13th century), which was used as the tombstone for Bishop Enrico Casalorci (+1312), who is portrayed on the back.
The Cathedral also contains chapels faced in precious marble and finely sculpted. Of particular importance is the sepulchre of Orazio Malaguzzi (to the right of the entrance) executed by Clemente. The funeral monument of Valerio Malauzzi (of 1510), by Bartolomeo Spani is quite unusual (3rd chapel on the right side). The Rangoni sepulchre (again by Clemente), located in the chapel at the back (on the right side) next to the choir, is another impressive sight. Finally, Guercino’s masterpiece, Assumption of the Virgin Mary with St. Peter in Cathedra and St. Jerome, can be seen at the altar.