The Cathedral of Sant’Andrea, Amalfi’s main Catholic place of worship, is a 9th-century church whose architectural features range from Romanesque to Baroque to Rococo.
Predominantly of Arab-Norman Romanesque architectural style, it has been remodeled several times, adding Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic and Baroque elements. The cathedral includes the adjoining Basilica of the Crucifix, also dating from the 9th century. You’ll also find the Crypt of Sant’Andrea and the famous Cloister of Paradise.
How to visit
The cathedral’s opening hours vary according to the time of year.
From March to June, the cathedral is open non-stop from 9:00 am to 6:45 pm, closing at 7:45 pm during the summer months of July to September.
From November to February, the cathedral is open from 10am to 1pm and in the afternoon from 2:30pm to 4:30pm. The ticket price is fixed all year round at 3 euros, except for minors and over-65s, who pay a reduced price of 1 euro.
The cathedral’s interior, with its coffered ceiling, features a central nave with a large 13th-century wooden crucifix and a painting of the Martyrdom of Saint Andrew above the altar.
Two majestic columns in Egyptian granite support the main arch, while two smaller columns and two pulpits stand further back. In the left-hand aisle is the mother-of-pearl cross, brought from the Holy Land by Monsignor Marini.
Next to it is the baptistery in red Egyptian porphyry and, moving down the nave, in the side chapels are paintings by Silvestro Mirra and his pupils. In the right-hand nave, we find the 16th-century reliquary bust of Saint Andrew and, over the door, a large canvas depicting Saint Andrew and Saint Matthew.
The building dominates the city from the top of a grand 57-step staircase, at the top of which is the famous mosaic, rich in form and vivid color, that covers the cathedral’s façade, depicting Christ enthroned amidst the evangelists.
The cathedral boasts a splendid Romanesque bell tower, completed in 1276, covered in mosaic tiles and restored in 1929.
Beyond the portico is the cathedral’s bronze entrance door, which came from Constantinople as a gift from an Amalfi patrician.
The crypt houses the body of Saint Andrew, the first disciple of Jesus and patron saint of Amalfi.
According to tradition, after Saint Andrew’s martyrdom, his relics were moved from Patras to Constantinople. Local legends say that the relics were sold by the Romans. They remained there until 1208, when, during the Fourth Crusade, the relics were brought to Amalfi by Cardinal Pietro Capuano, a native of Amalfi.
The crypt is now in its Baroque form dating from 1600, with scenes from the Passion of Jesus set amid rich, elegant stucco decorations. The central altar, in precious marble, is the work of Domenico Fontana. The large bronze statue is the work of Michelangelo Naccherino. Next to it are marble statues of Saint Lawrence and Saint Stephen. The sacred relics are enclosed in a silver urn beneath the central altar.
The history of Amalfi Cathedral began in the 9th century, thanks to the will of Duke Mansone I.
The cathedral was built next to a pre-existing basilica, the Basilica del Crocifisso, which had itself been built over an early Christian temple. Initially, the two places of worship remained separate, but they were combined into a single Romanesque church shortly after the year 1000. The church thus created had six naves, but from 1266 onwards, the left nave of the Church of the Crucifix was demolished to make way for the construction of the Chiostro del Paradiso (Cloister of Paradise), a cemetery housing the chapels of illustrious Amalfi families.
The cathedral is a faithful reflection of Amalfi’s history, with architectural styles ranging from the Romanesque of the bell tower to the Baroque and Rococo, with strong Arab-Byzantine features, a sign of the commercial and political autonomy Amalfi achieved when it was part of the maritime republics and a sign of the dominations it subsequently suffered.
The cathedral has undergone several transformations, the two churches have been separated again and the Basilica del Crocifisso, the oldest part of the cathedral, can still be visited today. After several alterations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a full-scale renovation became necessary after a strong wind in 1861 destroyed part of the already poorly preserved façade.
The current decoration on the façade, which was also rebuilt after the collapse, consists of mosaics by Domenico Morelli depicting Christ enthroned between the Evangelists. The atrium before the entrance serves as a link with the Chiostro del Paradiso, the older Basilica del Crocifisso and the Romanesque bell tower. Seen from Piazza Duomo, from below, at the start of the steps leading up to the bronze entrance door, the façade and the cathedral as a whole continue to amaze as one of Italy’s most fascinating architectural spectacles.