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Trani Cathedral

Trani Cathedral

In Trani, south eastern Italy, sits a roman catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Nicholas the Pilgrim, the Cathedral of San Nicola Pellegrino. The 12th Century romanesque cathedral was constructed between 1159 to 1186 and is now a historical site. The church has various sculptures, three underground crypts and a 59-metre bell tower with a pointed arch under it. From the year 1230 to 1239, the tower was constructed, and bishop Giacomo Tura Scottini ensured floors above the second one were finally erected in the 14th century. The Cathedral was built using a stone obtained from the city's caves called calcareous tuff. It is very light and has an off-white colour.

Initial construction started in 1099 during the early church of Santa Maria Della Scala, which dates back to the 4th century. Saint Leucius' relics were there till the 8th century when they were translated to Brindisi. The Cathedral was built with the intention to house the relics of saint Nicholas the Pilgrim (who died in 1904 in Trani).

The Cathedral has various architectural features, which makes it very unique. The main church's entrance is 16 feet above ground level. An opening under the main entrance provides access to Saint Nicholas' Crypt. The Santa Maria Della Scala's crypt, built days earlier than the 7th century, can be accessed from Saint Nicholas' Crypt. The crypts are located within the lower church, which has a plan close to the upper church with a Romanesque –style.

The hypogeum of Saint Leuicus sits below Sea level and is beautiful with frescoes due to the dire state of preservation. There are two aisles, and a nave with double columns supporting two side matronsei separates it in the plan. There isn't much left of the interior decorations leaving a bland appearance despite the restoration done in 1939 -1942, which left medieval elements. Some add-ons like the transept and the wooden ceiling of the nave.

Although, there are remains of the original mosaics of the pavements, which include the original sin episode of Adam and Eve and the allegory of Alexander the Great flying to heaven. The church is just a few metres from the coast and relatively isolated. The façade can be accessed using a double staircase leading to a gallery, the portal with decorations influenced by Islamic Art. It is completed by three windows with a small rose window decorated with animal figures. Barisano da Trani constructed the central bronze door in 1175, which is now inside the Cathedral, and a replica built in 2012 was placed outside.

From The bell tower, you can enjoy the fantastic view of Trani and the Adriatic sea, the tower has a spiral staircase that takes you to the upper part. However, the tower was restored in the 20th century after it was declared unsafe due to the failing state of the base that carries the tower's mass. The ground floor has an internal ogival arcade that creates a passage underneath. The openings get wider on the upper floor. The bell tower can be visited anytime; no entrance fee is required.