The Quirky Cathedral San Lorenzo

We have an affinity for quirky architecture. The Cathedral San Lorenzo is as quirky as it gets.

Lorenzo began as a small church in the fifth or sixth century
and was rebuilt several times before being consecrated as
Genoa’s main cathedral in 1118. As is often the case with
medieval churches, the construction continued for centuries
incorporating numerous architects and styles throughout the
years. The facade, with the black and white layered stripes
of marble and slate is typical of Genoa (or Genova to the Italians), was finished in 1312.

Cathedral San Lorenzo, Genoa Italy

plaza facing San Lorenzo is so small that I had to
lie supine with my head propped on an opposite building to
capture a partial photo of this wonderfully surprising cathedral.
Tight as the plaza is, musicians, street entertainers, balloon
artists and art students crowded the steps and cobblestones.

Cathedral San Lorenzo, Genoa Italy

Close up on the columns at the front of the church. Each is its own work of art.

Cathedral San Lorenzo, Genoa Italy

Yes, this shot is straight on. And, yes, the window is THAT wonky. I loved this window.

A figure column on a corner.

Inside the black and white continues to dominate the decor, yet the altar
area is bright and colorful – the contrast strange
and wonderful.

Pipe Organ in Cathedral San Lorenzo, Genoa Italy

The pipe organ.

An odd little alcove in Cathedral San Lorenzo, Genoa Italy

An odd little alcove. Babies resting against skulls… hmmmm.

The miracle bomb in Cathedral San Lorenzo, Genoa Italy

Proudly displayed inside the Cathedral is an unexploded
World War II bomb that had hit, but miraculously spared the church by not detonating. Sure glad this
ominous projectile was a dud – the cathedral is such a unique
architectural specimen – its loss would have been tragic.
Hopefully the priests of San Lorenzo were expert
bomb diffusers. I would have hated for their incredible luck to run
out while I was snapping a photo.


See also:
Genoa’s Ancient City in Pictures
Overview of Genoa – learn more about the city itself

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18 thoughts on “The Quirky Cathedral San Lorenzo”

  1. Never forget the 1500 residents who lost their lives on July 19, 1943. A shame but one can ultimately blame the Nazi war machine which prompted this allied bombing that took place over this nice town. God bless.

  2. What a great account of your travels through San Lorenzo. Amazing photos! You’re inspiring me to get back on the road… Cheers!

  3. These photos are sooo beautiful! Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues works at a small recording studio in Genoa and speaks very highly of the city and it’s beauty. Thank you for sharing! Would love to make a trip to this city by the sea.

  4. Your posts on Genoa really make me want to head there next time I am in Italy. The cathedral looks so detailed. I love churches like that, the ones were you can never stop noticing all of the quirks.

  5. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos. I definitely have to get back to Italia. I have been to Rome, Florence and Venice, but there is still so much more to see and experience.
    Happy trails.

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