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    Gerace - Beauty of the Holy City

    The village of Gerace is deep in the high grounds of Locride and presents its Norman and Byzantine hearts, displaying its simple yet elegant beauty. The name Gerace is of Greek origin and means “sparrowhawk”. According to the legend, a sparrowhawk indicated exactly where to build the village, far from the seaborne attacks of the Saracens.

    Gerace is excavated in the rock on a hill overlooking the Ionian Sea and is a labyrinth of lanes that adorn a landscape where culture and nature blend together. The foreign dominations reflected in the different styles of the wonderful squares in the village have left a complex artistic identity where the energy of a proud and elegant land vibrates.

    And elegance is the first thing that the visitor to the village notes. Gerace is slowly revealed to visitors, every corner hides chapters of culture and history. The Byzantine shapes of Gerace haven’t disappeared with the passage of time and other influences. The east has had to be hidden here as in other places but it’s been assimilated, digested and displayed with lightness. Everything in Gerace talks about civilisation, culture exchanges and a profound religiosity - the town once called Holy City with 128 churches now only has 17. The formidable artistic concentrate of churches and palaces doesn’t tell all about the charm of Gerace, which continues intact through the narrow streets, in the squares, arches, underpasses, rich doorways, the surviving domed wood-burning ovens for baking bread and the walls full of history, keeping in reserve wonderful surprises, as dazzling as precious stones. The Moorish mullioned windows of the so-called “Casa Catalana”, the studios of the potters dug from the rock, and the cathedral, one of the most important, and wonderful, works of art in southern Italy.

    Gerace is rightly included among the most beautiful villages of Italy and claims a series of attractions that leaves the visitor truly satisfied, starting with its architectural asset of national interest - the cathedral, the largest in Calabria.

    The Underpasses


    The Cathedral

    Gerace cathedral has been declared a national Byzantine-Romanesque-Norman monument. It’s the largest in Calabria and is the most imposing evidence of the Norman occupation of the region. Dedicated to Maria Assunta, the cathedral was built in the Norman period between 1085 and 1120 on an existing building dating to the 8th-century. Its imposing structure makes it look more like a fortress than a religious building but its majesty also makes it the most representative monument of Byzantine-Romanesque-Norman architecture in Calabria.


    Two of the three semi-circular apses protrude from the large limestone wall. Inside, there are three naves hosting 20 granite and marble columns surmounted by late Imperial capitals, interrupted in the centre by two T-pillars. Its primitive style, between Romanesque and Norman, is pure and essential. There’s a bas-relief portraying St. Thomas’s disbelief along the left nave while the apse holds the altar of the Sacred Heart of Mary, created in 1771. The long apsed choir, of the same size as the underlying crypt, opens in correspondence with the main nave while the large 15th-century chapel opens on the side squares of the transept, covered by a cross vault and decorated by ribs with a complex section hanging down onto elegant corner columns.

    Interior of Cathedral

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