The Cathedral, dedicated to
S. Martino, as well as the square in front of it, date back
to the 11th-15th Centuries: the exterior still has its original,
Romanesque appearance, curiously asymmetric, whilst the interior
was reconstructed in Gothic form: a lateral chapel preserves
the famous Funerary Monument of Ilaria del Carretto, masterpiece
of Iacopodella Quercia from 1408. Still in the interior of
S. Martino, there’s the ancient sculpture of the Volto
Santo (Holy Face), which according to tradition, represents
the true face of Jesus.
The Via del Duomo, where we can find the Church of S. Giovanni,
leads to Piazza Napoleone, which with the adjacent Piazza
del Giglio, constitutes the 19th Century link of the City.
From here, Via Veneto leads to the Piazza S. Michele, which
occupies the space of the old Roman Fort, and is surrounded
by houses from the 1200’s to the 130’s, as well
as the Palazzo Pretorio from the Renaissance era. The square
is dominated by the Church of S. Michele in Foro, dating back
to 1143 and carring in its façade, a typical Pisano-Lucchese
style from various orders of lodge.
Following Via C. Battisti and passing through Piazza del Salvatore,
we come to the Church of S. Frediano: the oldest in Lucca
after the Cathedral, characterized by ancient mosaics dominating
the higher part of its façade; all the area surrounding
S. Frediano, preserves an intact appearance of the old City,
even down to the door frames of many shops and artisan laboratories.
This characteristic is repeated along Via Fillungo, elegant,
picturesque and lined with houses and towers embellished with
wrought iron elements.
Via Fillungo allows access to the Piazza del Mercato: the
square is practically the central area of the old Roman Amphitheatre
(confirmed by its typical elliptical shape) and the medieval
houses increased, supported by the powerful flights of steps
of the building. The access arches of the square are the arches
which allowed entry to the amphitheatre. This square, therefore,
represents a unique masterpiece of Italian architecture and
an urbanistic event of evocative noteworthiness.
Lucca is also a city which can be enjoyed by abandoning the
main roads and keeping to the intricate, narrow, medieval
streets; only in this way, can one come across other small
artistic gems: the Houses of Guinigi with high towers, the
Piazza of the Church of S. Maria Forisportam, the Church of
S. Francesco and the National Musem of Villa Guinigi.