Visiting the Lucca Cathedral was one of the highlights of the time that we spent touring the city of Lucca in Italy. One of the most fascinating things about the cathedral is the different colors of the bell tower due to the different materials that were used in its construction. The base of the tower is made of quartz stone, while the top floors are made of white limestone, making for an interesting contrast. Another interesting feature of the cathedral are the three arches that are part of the entrance. One of the arches is smaller than the other two due to the fact that the bell tower existed at the time of the construction and the architects reduced the size of the third arch to accommodate the tower.
Construction began on the Lucca Cathedral in 1063, but there were many changes over the years, including Gothic features that were added in the 14th century. There is some very interesting artwork and reliefs within the church, but one of the most important objects within the cathedral is the Holy Face of Lucca, also known as the Sacred Countenance. It is a wood crucifix with the image of Christ that was carved in the 1st century and is the most precious relic in Lucca. Another interesting feature within the Lucca Cathedral is the tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, which is considered to be a masterpiece.
Another interesting feature of the Lucca Cathedral are the columns on the façade that are of varying styles. Legend has it that the city commissioned three different artists to design the columns for the cathedral. When the artists presented their work, the town’s people apparently decided to use the columns from all three without paying them for their work. In addition to the columns of the façade, the marble entranceway is quite stunning with more unique columns and detailed reliefs above the doors.
Lucca Cathedral is definitely one of the most prominent buildings in the city of Lucca. With its unique coloring, beautiful artwork, and interesting design, it is different than most of cathedrals that we visited in Europe. Lucca itself is a wonderful walled city with medieval architecture and is worth at least visiting when in Tuscany. In addition to the Lucca Cathedral, there is also the Torre Guinigi, which is a tower with trees on the roof that provides wonderful views of the city.
Wherever you travel, one of things that it almost always on the list of the things to see in a city will be a historic bridge. Obviously, bridges serve an important function to allow people to cross rivers or large crevasses safely. Over time, though, they became places to display art and statues or were dedicated to honor famous citizens of a city. We have seen many fascinating bridges over the years and it would be hard for us to choose a favorite. Whether it is the height of the bridge in Ronda, the uniqueness of Ponte Vecchio in Florence, or the artwork of the Charles Bridge in Prague, they are all beautiful in their own way. The beauty of bridges isn’t isolated to Europe as we have seen many interesting bridges in the US as well in places like Chicago and Pittsburgh. What is the most interesting bridge that you have seen?
The Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza is a very large bullring in Seville, Spain. Seating 12,000 spectators, it is one of the oldest and most famous bullfighting rings in Spain as well as the world. Construction began on the stadium in 1749 and the highlight of the bullring is the “prince’s box”, which has ornate arches and columns and was exclusively reserved for the Spanish Royal Family. It is still an active bullfighting ring that has bullfights from March/April until September. Certainly there are passionate feelings about bullfighting, its cruelty as well as its cultural significance. The history and architectural design of the bullring make it worthwhile to visit regardless of your opinion of bullfighting.
We were in Spain in November, so we did not have an opportunity to go to an actual bullfight, but the bullring offers daily tours that allow you to see the inside of the ring as well as visit the bullfighting museum. The museum is very interesting as it contains paintings of bullfighting, famous matadors or bullfighters, as well as matador costumes, and even the heads of a couple of very special bulls that fought in bullfights. The bullfighting ring is actually one of the most visited attractions in the city of Seville. If you decide to take the tour, you should plan on about an hour at the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza.