The Cathedral of Cremona, the main sacred building of the town, is the outcome of the religiousness and faith of several generations having identified itself and represented the town and its social community in it; as a proof of this the façade of the Cathedral is used as a symbol of the town in the 13th century town seals, while during the Middle Age this symbolic function was usually attributed either to the image of the patron saint or to the façade of the Town Hall. For the Cathedral of Cremona and for its thousand and more craftsmen, from the famous artist to the unknown mason or stone-cutter, the following sentence by the great scholar Giulio Carlo Argan holds good: "a Romanesque cathedral, with its pictorial and plastic display, is rarely the work of only one generation, and it is never the expression of a single creative personality. It is instead the creative and choral expression of a society that does not want to define itself only in the present, but also in the past preceding it and in the future preparing it. The generation inheriting the monument, being this completed or not, venerates in this monument their fathers' work and wants to hand it down to their sons together with their mark".
It is not by chance therefore that this guide for the visit of the Cathedral of Cremona starts from the memory of an important personality of the town cultural panorama, who unfortunately died 10 years ago in 1994. Monsignor Franco Voltini contributed, with his diligent and serious activity of study and research in the historical and artistic field, together with other students, to make the long and complex story of this building better known. We owe to him the writing of the text Cremona The Cathedral of 1989, written together with Valerio Guazzoni, where we can find a synthetic but still useful itinerary to visit the church at the end of the book. An itinerary that illustrates in less than 10 pages the complex and century-long historical vicissitudes of this building.
Thanks to the reading of these pages, today we present this work: we hope a usefull attempt to follow the footsteps of a still unforgettable scholar in the attempt of offering the chance of a rapid but as exhaustive as possible guided visit of the Cathedral of Cremona, updated by all those historical and documental news revealed during the last 15 years by the several and complex works carried out on this monument.
THE CATHEDRAL AND ITS LONG STORY: THE FOUNDATION PERIOD AND THE FIRST ESTABLISHMENT
The Cathedral was founded in 1107 according to the foundation stone supported by the prophets Enoch and Elijah. The original stone is today part of the wall in the Sacrestia dei Canonici (Sacristy of the Canons), but that visitors may see in the cast reproducing it, exhibited at the new Museo delle Pietre Romaniche (Museum of the Romanesque Stones), now suggestively prepared in the nearby Baptistry. The construction of the Cathedral went on with alacrity for 10 years up to 1117, when a disastrous earthquake ruined most of it, thus dramatically interrupting the works. Among the different hypotheses about its first architectural aspect, scholars lean towards either a latin cross building with alternate systems of supports and six-partite vaults or a truss cover without transverse arches at least for the nave. In 1129, however, works started again and the building was finished between 1160 and 1170, while for its consecration we have to wait the period of the Bishop Sicardo who, according to the chronicles,consecrated the building in 1196.