Cathedral of San Gerlando
“San Giullannu senza dannu“
Built in the wake of the great Norman tradition, it is a valuable testimony of different artistic expressions:
- Arab-Norman style, the original style which today can be recognized in the transept and the clock tower that rises above the chapel of St. Bartholomew,
- Gothic Chiaramonte style, which can be seen in the first part of the church with its octogonal based columns supporting the pointed arches;
- Renaissance the architectural motif that is expressed in the facade and bell tower that beautifully runs alongside it;
- Baroque the decoration of the presbytery and the middle section of the church.
The construction lasted six years (1096-1102).
It was part of an “ecclesia munita
” (fortified church), ie a place of worship and defense at the same time, that commanded from the top of the hill the walled medieval city of Agrigento. It is a Latin cross plan church, 100 meters long and a 40 meters wide.
The building was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary of the Assumption and later consecrated to San Gerlando by the Bishop Bertaldo de Labro. Along the left aisle, there funerary monuments and tombs of archbishops and notable people from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. In a glass urn near the southern gate is the embalmed body of St. Felix Martyr. The popular tradition recognizes in the human figure Brandimarte, a knight of Charlemagne, champion of the king, killed in the fight “tri contru tri”, between three Christian knights and three Saracen nights on the island of Lampedusa.
Excerpt from the book “Agrigento, visita del Centro Storico” by Giuseppe Di Giovanni. Courtesy of the author. Translated by Michele Gallo