Cattedrale di Parma (Parma Cathedral) – Parma, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Cattedrale di Parma (Parma Cathedral)

The city of Parma's cathedral is home to one of the greatest illusionistic frescoes of the Renaissance.  


The Cattedrale di Parma sits in one of Parma’s main squares. Construction on the massive cathedral began in 1059 at the behest of bishop Cadalo and was consecrated in 1106. With the passing of the centuries, it has been filled with Romanesque sculptures and other masterpieces from the Parma School of Painting.

The entrance to the cathedral is guarded by two marble lions sculpted during the 13th century. Just about every space of the interior is covered in expressions of faith with its primary feature being Antonio da Correggio’s “Assumption of the Virgin”.  The fresco covers the cathedral’s dome and is a mesmerizing piece of artwork completed in 1530.

The “Assumption of the Virgin” showcases the Virgin Mary amid a flurry of figures accompanying her toward heaven. Jesus Christ is at the center of the cupola, descending from the light. Technically speaking, the fresco is considered to be a masterful work whereby light and shadowing are employed to guide the viewer’s perspective.

The illusionistic manner whereby, the figures appear to protrude into the spectator’s space was then a rare use of the foreshortening technique in Renaissance painting. With this technique and the white spaces filled with frenetic activity, the work is said to have given rise to the Baroque style of art that became popular nearly two centuries later. 

Know Before You Go

The cathedral can be visited anytime.

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April 6, 2020

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