Ferrara Cathedral

Ferrara Cathedral (Italian: Basilica Cattedrale di San Giorgio) is a basilica in Ferrara, Northern Italy, the largest religious edifice in the city. It is dedicated to Saint George, the patron saint of Ferrara.

It is located in the city centre, not far from the Palazzo Comunale and the famous Castello Estense and is connected to the Archbishop's Palace by a covered passage.


The basilica was begun in 12th century, when the city was extending towards the left bank of the Po River. The former Cathedral, also dedicated to St. George, still stands on the right bank of the river. The new edifice was consecrated in 1135.

Art and architecture

The original Romanesque design is manifest in the façade, resembling those of Modena and Parma: it is in white marble, with three cusps and a series of loggias, small arcades and rose windows, statues and numerous bas-reliefs. On the right side is a statue of Alberto d'Este while on the side is a bronze bust of Pope Clement VIII, over an inscription in memory of the capture of the city by that Pope.

In the centre of the façade is the porch, supported by two columns with telamons seated on lions at the bases. It is decorated by a Final Judgement by an unknown master, a loggia with an "Our Lady with Child" (a late Gothic addition). The portal is the work of the sculptor Nicholaus, a pupil of Wiligelmus. The lunette shows St. George, Patron Saint of Ferrara, slaying the dragon; scenes from the Life of Christ appear on the lintel. The jambs framing the entrance are embellished with figures depicting the Annunciation and the four prophets who foretold the coming of Christ. According to a now-destroyed inscription, Nicholaus was responsible for the design of the original building. The two side portals on the west facade are also his work, as is the lower loggia here and on the south side of the building. A second portal by Nicholaus with additions by Benedetto Antellami was present on the south side, but it was demolished during the 18th century restorations. Some of the sculpture swhich decorated it are now on the piazza in front of the building (the supporting griffins) in the narthex and in the Cathedral Museum. The portal was used by pilgrims directed to Rome. Also on the southern side is the unfinished Renaissance bell tower, in white and pink marble, attributed to Leon Battista Alberti and built in 1451-1493. The apse, in brickwork, has arches and marble capitals, and was designed by the Ferrarese architect Biagio Rossetti.

The interior, entirely remade in Baroque style after a fire in the 18th century, has a nave and two aisles. It houses the bronze statues of "Crucifixion", by Niccolò Baroncelli, and "Ss. George and Maurelius", by Domenico di Paris (15th century), as well as a Martyrdom of St. Lawrence by Guercino (17th century). In the side chapels are a Madonna Enthroned with Saints by Il Garofalo, an Incoronation of the Virgin by Francesco Francia and a Virgin in Glory by Bastianino, who also painted the Last Judgement in the apse choir (1577-1581).

The Cathedral Museum, housed in the former church of San Romano across the square, houses two works by Cosmè Tura (Annunciation and St. George and the Dragon), the Madonna della melagrana by Jacopo della Quercia and eight tapestries with stories of the two patron saints of Ferrara based on cartoons by Garofalo and Camillo Filippi.


  • Ippolito d'Este

Building Activity

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