It was built at the end of the XI century on the ruins of the winter basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The central block is formed of two cylindrical parts of stone, one on top of the other; the circular ambulatory still has the original doorways, which are lower than the present street level, and has large arched windows, while the upper tambour has smaller windows and is relieved above by pilaster strips and small arches in brick, on which the roof rests.
The entrance from Piazza Paolo VI was opened in 1571, but the present doorway was rebuilt in 1708, after the bell tower over it collapsed.
The interior has a central space surrounded by an ambulatory and roofed with a large majestic dome; the raised presbytery area was added at the end of the XV century. The most important works to see in the cathedral are: near the entrance,the sarcophagus of Bishop Berardo Maggi (1308) made of red Veronese marble and a noteworthy example of the work of master sculptors from Campione, paintings by Moretto, among which l'Assunta (1526) behind the main chapel of the presbytery and the masterpiece San Luca, San Marco, Elia dormiente (St. Luke, St. Mark and the sleeping Elijah) 1533 - 34.; works by Gerolamo Romanino: Raccolta della manna ( Gathering Manna),two paintings near the balustrade of the chapel on the right in the presbytery, called del Santissimo Sacramento, and, on the wall opposite the chapel, the large canvas Traslazione dei corpi di alcuni santi ( The Transfer of the Bodies of some Saints) by Francesco Maffei.
The treasure kept in the left hand chapel of the presbytery is particularly important; it is called the treasure of Santa Croce and is composed, among other things, of an ivory cross-shaped reliquary,, the work of Lombard goldsmiths of the XI century, and the Croce del Campo, dating from the X century, which used to be raised on the Carroccio.
Two stairways lead to the Crypt of San Filastro under the presbytery, which was built in Romanesque times (IX - XI century) making generous use of building materials from Roman ruins. It was part of the first basilica and has a nave and four small aisles ending in three little apses.
THE OLD CATHEDRAL
Piazza Paolo VI