In the heart of Genoa’s old town, San Lorenzo Cathedral (Duomo) is the most important church in the city. It’s a soaring Gothic and Romanesque masterpiece in alternating bands of black and white marble, where the magnificent art and architecture serve as reminders of this former maritime republic’s historic wealth and power.
Construction of Genoa's cathedral began in the early 11th century, though the facade and interiors weren’t completed until centuries later under Perugian architect Galeazzo Alessi. As a result, the architecture blends Romanesque, Gothic, and mannerist elements. Inside, the cathedral is decorated with sumptuous 14th-century frescoes and is home to the chalice said to have been used by Christ during the Last Supper (displayed in the Treasury Museum beneath the cathedral).
San Lorenzo Cathedral is a popular stop on hop-on hop-off or private walking or scooter tours, along with the Palazzi dei Rolli, Palace of the Doges, and Old Port. Tours of Genoa’s historic center can be paired with day trips to the nearby coastal villages of Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino, and the Cinque Terre.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Comfortable shoes are recommended if you’re taking a walking tour of Genoa.
- Photography without flash is allowed inside the cathedral.
- Modest attire that covers shoulders and knees is required to enter the church.
- The Cathedral is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
The San Lorenzo Cathedral is located in the heart of Genoa’s historic center, an easy walk from the port and a short metro ride from the train station. Get off at the De Ferrari stop.
When to Get There
The cathedral closes daily from noon to 3pm, so be sure to plan your visit for the morning or late afternoon to be able to admire the interiors and visit the Treasury Museum on the lower level.
Beneath the main level of the cathedral, the Treasury Museum displays a collection of sacred art and religious artifacts in gold and silver, dating from the 11th to the 19th centuries. Highlights include the ninth-century glass Sacro Catino (believed for centuries to be Jesus’ Holy Chalice), the Byzantine Croce degli Zaccaria reliquary, and a chest containing the ashes of St. John the Baptist.