Co-Cathedral “Gran Madre di Dio” ~ Taranto Capitale di Mare

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Co-Cathedral “Gran Madre di Dio”

Viale Magna Grecia, 74121 Taranto TA


Consecrated by Mons. Guglielmo Motolese on 6 December 1970, the Co-Cathedral of Taranto dedicated to the “Great Mother of God” was the last and perhaps the  most beautiful work of Giò Ponti.

The desire to provide the city of a new place of Christian worship (in the areas that were the protagonists of the urban revival of that period) had already shown itself in the thoughts of Archbishop Motolese, starting from the early sixties of the twentieth century.

For the execution of the troubled and thoughtful project, the well-known architect Giò Ponti was called. He decided to articulate the structure, in analogy with the ancient Italian cathedrals, into two parts: A nave contained in a low body and a high bell tower.

The troubled design genesis led the architect to develop four different versions of the Cathedral before arriving at the definitive one. From the study of the rich correspondence between the designer and the Archbishop, it is clear how Ponti lived the assignment as a real path of faith and religious reflection instead of seeing it as something purely technical. This mature and conscious reflection concerns only to offer the city a Structure that was at the service of faith and liturgy.

The years that led to the definitive plan were those of the Second Vatican Council during which the liturgical reform was being prepared; this significantly changed the way of celebrating Mass and for Ponti this was a real challenge: Building a Church according to the new provisions.

The structure, while presenting itself as a modern reading of classical canons, gradually enriched itself with structural and architectural innovations that led it to define itself as a real unicum.

The close relationship between the city of Taranto and the sea is easily evidenced by the idea behind the work: A ship that was supposed to be reflected in the placid waters of three tanks placed in front of it with a sail instead of the bell tower.

The bell sail is defined by two white reinforced concrete walls which is forty-one meters high (134 ft.), twenty-two meters wide (72 ft.) and pierced by eighty hexagonal and rectangular windows, wedged on the sides between two narrow bell towers.

The choice of the windows facing towards the sky was explained by Ponti himself: “I thought: two façades. One, the smaller, reachable climbing the staircase, with the doors to access the church. The other one, the largest, accessible only to the gaze and the wind: a façade for the air, with eighty windows open to the immense, which is the dimension of the mystery … Otherwise where should the angels sit? “.

The interior spaces are divided into several levels, presenting themselves as the result of a structured and complete creative process that did not aim at the mere construction of a liturgical hall, but at the construction of a functional complex ready to accommodate the modern needs of the Christian community that would have had to live it.

Below the main church there is a beautiful crypt, which in the everyday life plays the role of parish, inside of which rest the remains of Archbishop Guglielmo Motolese, who commissioned the work.

The main church, which can host several thousand people, is characterized by the large single nave on the edge of which there are two narrow ambulatories that allow the access to the side chapels of the Blessed Sacrament, of the Madonna del Mantello, of the Baptistery and of the Sailor Man.

The high stone altar covered on the front by a light green metal sheet is flanked by two high pillars that widen to accommodate two large metal cross-anchors, symbol of the strong bond between the city and its sea and certain suggestion at the base of the project.

The final wall of the deep liturgical hall is characterized by the double order of openings (the lowest of which opens onto the choir) and by the presence of the valuable painting that depicts the Annunciation by Giò Ponti himself.

The choice of the interior colors amazes for their shades. The walls and volumes characterized by a rough and textured plaster are emphasized by the colors of the Apulian tradition in the infinite shades of greens, ochres and yellows.

The Co-Cathedral of Taranto is the result of an organic and complex project for which Ponti chose every single detail by designing the furnishings. He chose the colors, the materials, the design of the benches, the tables, the baptismal font etc. He made also the canvas of the Annunciation as well as the Madonna del Mantello and the Crucifix made in the school of Beato Angelico and placed in the chapel dedicated to them.

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099 779 6931


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8.30 -12.30 /17.00 -19.00

8.30 -12.30 /17.00 -19.00

8.30 -12.30 /17.00 -19.00

8.30 -12.30 /17.00 -19.00

8.30 -12.30 /17.00 -19.00

8.30 -12.30 /17.00 -19.00

8.30 -12.30 /17.00 -19.00

Co-Cathedral “Gran Madre di Dio” is an Off Course attractor

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Viale Magna Grecia, 74121 Taranto TA



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