Piazza Giovanni XXIII - 19100 LA SPEZIA (SP)
Source of photograph: Carola Merello
• Religion
• Church

• Church

• Church

• Private property

PLAN 1956
• Adalberto Libera

• Cesare Galeazzi

The history of this building begins at the end of the 1920s when the Hill of the Capuchins that covered the area of the present-day Piazza Europa was levelled out (1926/1929). On that occasion, the battery known as the “Capuchin” battery was also demolished. It had been set up by the Piedmontese military administration in 1857, and was the result of transformation and partial demolition of the Capuchin convent.
Once the area was developed, the idea of a new cathedral was conceived, and in 1929, when the city became a diocese to replace the ancient dioceses of Luni, Sarzano and Brugnato, a competition was held to design a great cathedral. This was won by the architect, Brenno Del Giudice, with a Fascist-style project which was never used. In 1956 the architect Adalberto Libera was assigned the project. He was a member of the Italian Movement for Rational Architecture (M.I.A.R.), and developed two solutions that were very similar in their general project lines. Unfortunately, Libera died before his work was completed (1963). The La Spezia architect, Cesare Galeazzi, took over the project and worked on it from 1971 to 1975, when the Cathedral of Cristo Re was consecrated.

The cathedral stands behind Piazza Europa on a raised level and can be reached from the piazza on foot, up two flights of stairs, and by car from Via dei Colli behind. Its circular architectural shape, that recalls the People of God gathered around Christ, makes a significant visual impact, and its central-plan single chamber can hold up to 2,500 people. The cylindrical reinforced concrete roof, 50 m in diameter, which opens up into a central eye, is a bold structural solution: it supports the perimetral walls and, using spherical steel joints, distributes the total weight (over 2000 tonnes) onto 12 reinforced concrete cylindrical pillars which are 8 m high and 1 m in diameter (the structures were designed by the engineer, Elio Montaldo).
The 12 roof support columns represent the Twelve Apostles, the names of which are inscribed on the columns. An eighteenth century wooden cross hangs in the centre of the chamber. The perimetral walls in ridged and white reinforced concrete form a continuous line which is slightly concave towards the interior. A ribbon window extending along the wall forms a ring of indirect light which is combined with that from the multi-coloured roof created by the Milanese painter, V. Magnani. The chamber floor, which is slightly sloping towards the centre, is in white and grey Bardiglio marble, whereas the slightly raised presbytery area is paved in red marble. The altar and the ambo have been designed and created in statuary white marble by the La Spezzia sculptor, Lia Gisolini Godano. Other notable works include the Baptistery designed by the architect Galeazzi, the bishop’s throne by the craftsman Nasi di Ortonovo, and the bronze Deposition of Christ by Angiolo del Santo.

How to get there:
By car: A15 Parma - La Spezia motorway, exit at La Spezia exit, head towards the city centre, then turn right into piazza Europa (car park)
By train: La Spezia railway station, go down via Fiume towards the sea, then turn left into via Domenico Chiodo (approx. 20 mins.)

Modern architecture in the surrounding areas:
Palazzo del Governo; Palazzo del Littorio; the “skyscraper” building; Palazzo delle Poste e dei Telegrafi; Teatro Civico (Civil Theatre); Palazzo del ghiaccio (ice-skating rink); Teatro-cinema Cozzani; Church of Santi Andrea e Cipriano

Public opening hours:
Open seven days a week, from 8.30 - 12.00 and 15.30 - 18.30

Useful information:
Telephone: 0187 739809

P. Cevini, Le città della Liguria - La Spezia, Sagep, Genova 1984

A. Alieri, M. Clerici, F. Palpacelli, G. Vaccaro, Adalberto Libera (1903-1963), in L'architettura. Cronache e storia. n. anno XII n. 6, 1966

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