Its construction started in the XI century and its structure has been changed throughout the centuries until it reached its final form at the beginning of the XIV century. For this reason some architectural elements have been removed over time and some of them are nowadays exposed in the Sacred Arts Museum. It is a great example of roman-gothic architecture and quite a good number of famous artists took part in its construction: Giovanni Pisano, Goro di Gregorio, Segno di Bonaventura, Giroldo da Como and Duccio di Boninsegna.
It is located on top of a huge and impressive stairway, dominating the whole Garibaldi Square from above. The façade is in pisan style, full of pillars, arches and statues by the famous sculpture Giovanni Pisano. Above its main portal there is an architrave with a bas-relief representing San Cerbone’s life, the bishop of Vetulonia and patron saint of Massa Marittima.
The apse has been extended since 1287 in gothic style with some romanesque elements, probably by the hand of Giovanni Pisano. The bell tower, in lombardy-romanesque style from the XII-XIII centuries, was widely restored and the upper part was almost completely rebuilt.
In the inside, the cathedral is organised in three aisles divided by travertine pillars, on top of them some capitels remind once again of Giovanni Pisano’s style. It is possible to admire many paintings and art masterpieces, like the marble Ark of San Cerbone, by Goro di Gregorio (1324), one of the highest examples of Italian gothic sculpture. Another noteworthy piece of art is the Baptismal Font in travertine by Giroldo da Como (1267), on top of which a marble tabernacle was placed in 1447. The Majesty by sienese Duccio di Buoninsegna (1316), the Crucifix by Segno di Bonaventura and the Crucifixion by Ambrogio Lorenzetti are all extraordinary work of art exposed on the walls.
A little trick…
As you can see, the Cathedral doesn’t face Piazza Garibaldi, but instead develops crosswise. Because of its unusual position the architect decided to resort to a perspective trick: he distributed the façade pillars at unequal distance from each other. This process creates an optical effect, so that if you look at the façade from the middle of the square, it will seem perfectly symmetrical.