Visit Lipari cathedral
The cathedral is the principal historic monument in Lipari, the town on the Aeolian island of the same name to the north of Sicily.
Explore the cathedral and cloisters in Lipari
Italy This Way comment: although the cathedral is not the most imposing that you will see when you visit Sicily, the frescoed ceiling in the cathedral and the attached ancient cloister make it an interesting destination when you are touring the island.
To reach the cathedral from Lipari town centre you walk up a long monumental staircase: the facade of the cathedral is visible as you climb the stairs to keep you motivated in the hot Sicilian sun! The facade has a main entrance with Ionic columns eaither side, and two smaller entrances to each side, ansd incorporates four pilasters.
The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, the patron saint of the Aeolian Islands, and was built by the Norman Count Roger from the 11th century. Only the arched vaults remain of the original Norman building, because the interior and the façade have been rebuilt since.
Rebuilt in the second half of the 16th century and completed with a barrel vault, the cathedral is high and rectangular with several chapels to the sides and has three naves. The ceiling of the main nave is covered with colourful frescoes.
In the 18th century the cathedral underwent substantial changes to its structure and decorations, and the ceiling frescoes depicting biblical scenes date from this period and the silver statue of the Protector and the wooden altar were added. The cathedral tower to the left of the facade was erected towards the end of the 18th century.
The main cathedral doors are covered in reliefs and one of the highlights of a visit to the the cathedral. Inside the cathedral, artworks of interest include a silver statue of Saint Bartholomew and a 17th century picture depicting the "Madonna of the Rosary."
From inside Lipari cathedral you can reach (a small entrance charge is payable) a Norman cloister, with capitals decorated with animals and columns supporting walls made from massive rocks.
Following invasion by the Turks, its later use as a cemetery that included the cloister being covered in earth, then an earthquake and landslide that further covered the cloister with earthe and parts of other walls, the cloister was lost for a very long time and only rediscovered in 1978.
Although it is quite small and not over-renovated - there are no meticulous flower beds and lawns here - th cloister is interesting because it is the oldest part of the cathedral: the cloister was built around 1131 as part of the original monastery, built by Benedictine monks, and predates the main cathedral
The columns that you see in the Lipari cloisters come from Roman houses that were in the region 2000 years ago, and you can also see some capital stones with carvings of mosters and birds.
Of course you will want to explore the town and island of Lipari while you are here. Next to the cathedral you can see an excavation of some very ancient walls from earlier towns that stood here 2000-3000 years ago, and the street in front of the cathedral leads to the Aeolian Islands Museum, one of the main attractions in the town.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.