Ruvo di Puglia Cathedral is a small but elegant Late Romanesque cathedral in Puglia, southern Italy. Built in the 13th century and expanded later, its mostly plain facade is decorated with sculptures and a lovely rose window. Inside is a tall, narrow nave that preshadows the Gothic style, more sculptures and fragments of frescoes.
History of Ruvo di Puglia Cathedral
In ancient times, Ruvo was known as Rubi and was the capital of the Peucettii tribe. It flourished in the Greek era (5th-3rd century BC), when it became famous for its red-figure pottery. (Examples of these can be seen in the Jatta Archaeological Museum in Ruvo.)
Ruvo di Puglia Cathedral was built in the 13th century in a Late Romanesque style and expanded in later centuries.
What to See at Ruvo di Puglia Cathedral
Ruvo's cathedral is located at the heart of the old town, on a small sunken plaza alongside a building with picturesquely faded red paint. The cathedral is a three-aisled basilica with a transept and three small apses at the east end. The freestanding campanile at the southeast corner of the cathedral was originally a defensive tower and was reconstructed in the 18th century. It is tall and narrow, with plain round-headed windows near the top.
The 13th-century facade shows the beginnings of the vertical orientation that would characterize the Gothic, with steep roof lines and a peaked gable at the top. The vertical effect was once greater; it was mitigated a bit by the widening of the base in later centuries to accommodate side chapels. The roof line is accentuated with vertical blind arches springing from corbels of human and animal heads, a motif which continues along the sides.
The rose window in the gable of the facade, in the wheel style typical of the region, dates from the 16th century. Below it is a mullioned window with a bas-relief figure of St. Michael and a small oculus with beautifully carved designs, sculptures of angels and some creature, and a weathered Latin inscription.
At the top of the facade is a seated man who has been variously identifed as an Apocalyptic figure or Frederick II (Holy Roman Emperor in 1220-50), and above him is a notch containing a weathered sculpture of Christ.
The lower part of the facade has three portals beneath structural arches. The portals are richly decorated with Romanesque sculpture by local artists, in a style that combines elements of Lombard, French and Oriental art. The central portal is flanked by slender columns supported on crouched atlantes (telamones) and topped with large griffins that gaze outward from the facade.
The central archivolts are beautifully carved, with foliage designs on the sides and apocalyptic motifs around the top. In the outer archivolt, Christ in Majesty sits at top center, flanked by four saints including the Virgin Mary and censing angels. The inner archivolt centers on the Lamb of God holding a cross, who is flanked by the symbols of the Four Evangelists and more foliage. The 24 Elders of the Apocalypse occupy the area in between.
The interior has high ceilings that foreshadow the Gothic style. The nave has three levels: a tall arcade, a gallery and a triforium. Corbels and capitals are carved with Romanesque sculptures - humans, animals and hybrid creatures - and there are fragments of Gothic murals on the walls. The tabernacle over the altar is modern.
Quick Facts on Ruvo di Puglia Cathedral
|Names:||Ruvo Cathedral · Ruvo Cattedrale · Ruvo di Puglia Cathedral|
|Styles:||Romanesque; Transitional Style|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||41.116931° N, 16.486503° E|
Ruvo di Puglia, Italy
|Lodging:||View hotels near Ruvo di Puglia Cathedral|
- Personal visits (April 2 and 5, 2008).
- Paul Blanchard, Blue Guide Southern Italy, 11th ed. (London: Blue Guides Limited, 2007),
- Ruvo di Puglia - Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Frederick II - Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Photos of Ruvo di Puglia Cathedral - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Ruvo di Puglia Cathedral
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