Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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The Cathedral dominates the Citadel. It was built at the start of the 18thC and is a fairly plain building with a massive frontage and a tall bell tower at the rear of the building. Lack of funds meant it was built without a dome.

Tickets for the cathedral and museum are bought from a small ticket office with a shop near the Archaeology Museum. A long flight of stairs, flanked by statues of Pope Pius IX and John Paul II, leads up to the main doorway where tickets are checked. (Check in the ticket office if you have problem with steps as on a Sunday several elderly people were using a different entrance.)

We had a quick peep in the Cathedral after the service finished on Sunday. The nave was full of chairs and the place had a vibrancy to it. We decided we needed to go back during the week when it is open for tourists and see it properly.

The nave had been cleared of chairs which were piled up at sides of church so there was nowhere to sit and enjoy the building. Everywhere was roped off. It now felt dead and to be honest we were a bit disappointed. At least we could see the elaborate marble memorial tombstones on the floor.

Inside it is rather an uninspiring building with limestone block walls and massive undecorated pillars supporting plain round arches. There is a painted ceiling with pale beige ribs decorated with red squares with a gold flower in centre and gold border round them. Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The most interesting feature is the Trompe L'Oeil effect of low dome above nave. (This only works if seen from the nave.)

There is a small free standing mass altar made of marble with large altar behind with massive silver candlesticks. The apse behind has a small altar with pictures round the walls. There are carved wooden choir stalls. There is a small ground floor pulpit made of white marble with gold decoration and a small brass font. There are elaborate side altars along the walls, some with statues lying under them.

The north side altar and chapel are very ornate and contain a box covered with embroidered material containing the host as well as two wall mounted tombs.

At the back is a small carved balcony with the organ. There are big statues at the west end of the side aisles; Christ carrying a cross, and the Virgin supported by cherubim.

We didn’t visit the Cathedral Museum. From the description there seemed to be a lot of portraits of priest in it. There was a degree of uncertainty what time it opened and there were other things we wanted to do.

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