Parma’s twelfth-century cathedral is one of the masterpieces of the Romanesque in Italy. The elegant brick campanile surmounted by a golden angel dates from the thirteenth century. A beautiful porch supported by lions stands out from the hut-shaped façade ornamented with little galleries. Not to be missed inside are Antelami’s “Descent from the Cross” (1178) and in the dome Correggio’s fresco of the “Assumption of the Virgin” (1526-1530).
Antelami’s masterpiece, however, is the octagonal Baptistery begun in 1196. The exterior sculptures, mostly the work of Antelami himself, can be admired on the three great portals of the Virgin, the Last Judgement and the legend of Barlaam. All around the building can be seen a series of carved panels depicting real and imaginary animals, symbols of medieval ideas of life and nature. The completely restored interior features a splendid dome decorated with frescoes by Byzantine masters between 1260 and 1271.