The Cathedral of Santi Donato e Pietro, Arezzo’s cathedral, is the city’s main place of worship and was built above an ancient pre-Christian church.
The visit of pope Gregory X in December 1275, on his return from the Council of Lyon, was fundamental in the establishment of the cathedral. The pope, gravely ill, died in Arezzo on January 10th, leaving the sum of thirty gold florins intended for the construction of the new cathedral. The works began in 1278, overseen by bishop Guglielmino of the Ubertini, and concluded only in 1511.
The external façade, left bare for centuries, was transformed between 1900 and 1914 into how we see it today. The three-nave interior, with five aisles divided by compound pillars, is characterised by a polygonal apse. The seven glass windows attributed to Marcillat are true masterpieces, painted in two phases between 1516-1517 and 1522-1524. Marcillat is also credited with the bible stories painted in the vaults of the first three aisles in the central nave and in the first aisle of the left side aisle, as well as the design of the staircase with which you access the cathedral.
Among the most important works preserved in the Cathedral of Arezzo, we find the fresco of the St. Mary Magdalen by Piero della Francesca, painted around 1460 in the left nave. The high altar is a monumental complex, documented as early as 1362. The wooden choir was designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1554. The illustrious aretino is also credited with the design of the organ’s pedestal along the left nave which currently frames the Madonna and Child, a fine wooden sculpture of the mid-13th century.
Important alterations to the cathedral’s original layout were carried out circa 1810, with the intent of creating an ‘internal passageway’ capable of expressing the continuity of the church’s history, the culminating moment of which is in the chapel of the Madonna del Conforto. Originally taken from the city’s other churches, the great altarpieces by Andrea della Robbia are preserved in the chapel.