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Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta of Acqui Terme

Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta of Acqui Terme

Duomo Square - 15011 ACQUI TERME (Alessandria) - Italy



The church of Santa Maria Assunta is the main Catholic place of worship in Acqui Terme, cathedral of the diocese of Acqui. Designed and built in the eleventh century it was conse-crated in 1067. It is located in the historical center of the city, in front of the homonymous square and can be reached from several points: via Cardinal Raimondi, via alla Bollente, via Verdi, via Barone and via Capra. Open: Monday to Sunday 7.30-11.30, 15-18.30. Annual opening / closing: always open. Daily worship.
The Roman municipium of Aquae Statiellae, dating back to the 2nd century B.C. on the former site of the Ligurian States, it became an episcopal seat in the second half of the fourth century, presumably with the bishop Maggiorino. A religious and ecclesial center of a vast diocese, its territory has always been very varied economically and socially. Becau-se of this administrative and political fragmentation during the Middle Ages, the bishop took on considerable importance not only as a religious guide of the community, but also to become a social and then a civil and political point of reference. From the tenth century the feudal authority of the bishop began to consolidate. Emblematic figure of this phase was Bishop Guido (1034-1070), author of a spiritual reform of the local clergy, soon reve-red as patron of the diocese. He is responsible for the completion of the new cathedral, which becomes a central point of reference for the churches that are gradually built on the territory of the diocese (parishes, chapels). Made of local sandstone, the cathedral is based on the Latin cross plan, with three aisles completed by three semicircular apses, and a transitional septum on whose sides two smal-ler apses open. The salient character of the Romanesque-Gothic construction was the mar-ked verticalism, still visible today in the high bulk of the apses. The current building is the result of successive modifications, renovations and extensions made especially in the Ba-roque period, in particular with the addition to the three naves originating in two other side aisles. Under the presbytery the crypt extends, probably before the construction of the ca-thedral: it is one of the largest in Europe, extended along the whole space corresponding to the transept and the apse area, it houses tombs of some bishops. The post-Romanesque bell tower of the early 15th century includes the richly carved stone portal, the work of the ma-ster Giovanni Antonio Pilacore. The adjacent Canonici cloister presents a happy blend of Gothic and Renaissance. In the sacristy of the Canons it is possible to admire a precious triptych, the Madonna of Monserrato, work of the Spanish Bartolomeo Bermejo, datable around 1480. Rich the se-ries of frescoes with biblical subjects that decorate the ceilings, numerous the di-pints of the Baroque, neoclassical period and nineteenth-century; there are also marble and wooden statues and ma-nuatti (including the pulpit and the baptistery of particular inte-rest). Numerous gravestones recall the restoration work carried out over the centuries. The cathedral of Acqui, among the most important in northern Italy, therefore presents a strati-fication of different architectural and artistic styles: from the Romanesque to the Gothic, from the Renaissance to the baroque, up to the neo-classicism.
The Cathedral of Acqui, built before the separation with the Orthodox and the Protestants, has always played a role of religious and artistic importance for the different Christian confessions, coming then to define itself as a center of local Catholicism. Over time it has always been a destination for pilgrimages and visits. Since 2005 he has hosted regular meetings with representatives of different religious faiths, from orthodoxy to Protestantism, from Judaism to Islam, up to Buddhism.
The Catholic religion has been the most widespread religious confession in the whole terri-tory belonging to the Cathedral of Acqui, at least since the Late Middle Ages. It has there-fore profoundly influenced the civil, political and artistic life of the region. Very ancient, however, is also the presence of the Jewish community, attested in Acqui since the sixteenth century, a community that played a major role in the economic and so-cial life of Acquese until the 2nd World War, when all the Jews were deported Nazi lagers. More marginal is the presence in some localities of the diocese of small Protestant com-munities (in Acqui, Rivalta Bormida, Montaldo Bormida and San Marzano Oliveto), while the preaching of Jehovah's Witnesses, who opened places of worship in Acqui and Cairo Montenotte. Linked to contemporary migratory flows is the opening of small places of worship that host numerous Muslim faithful (in Acqui, Nizza Monferrato), while Orthodox Christians have been granted in use some Catholic churches (in Canelli)
- Direct visit: with the guide of the students of the section of the Tourist Technical Institu-te.
- Virtual visit: presentation of the Cathedral through the video-tour
- Classroom activity (pre and post the visit):
Artistic itinerary: 11 detailed information on works of art of the chair.
Liturgical itinerary with detailed information on the main sites of the site (presbytery with altars and ambos, naves, baptistery, crypt and bell tower, sacre-stia).
Activity of verification of the acquired knowledge and skills.


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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.