Genoa Cathedral – Genoa, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Genoa Cathedral

This cathedral hides a sculpted dog that determines your fate and an unexploded shell from World War II. 


The Genoa Cathedral (La Cattedrale di San Lorenzo) was consecrated in 1118, though construction wasn’t fully completed until the 17th century. It has only become more beautiful with age, and its striped exterior is undeniably eye-catching.

The facade is a landmark feature of Genoa, and it’s not hard to see why. The intricate details boast the same beauty as more popular sights in Italy such as the Duomo in Florence, but without all the tourists. According to local legend, the facade can even determine the future of your love life.

Be sure to search for the “dog” in the facade, which according to local lore was added by a 14th-century sculptor who was mourning his own lost dog. It’s been said that if you find the dog-shaped creature, you are destined for true love. But if you can’t spot it, you’ll be single forever. Here’s a hint for those of you hoping to find love: the dog is on the right side of the facade at eye level. In bocca al lupo!

Be sure to take the time to explore the cathedral’s exquisite interior too. The inside of the cathedral is quite ornate, and if you know where to look, there are more secrets to be discovered. The spacious interior features incredible frescos, the alleged remains of John the Baptist, and an unexploded shell launched by a British battleship during World War II (the shell was aimed at the church because of an error made by the ship’s crew).

Know Before You Go

The cathedral is easily accessed by bus or foot. Entrance is free.

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