The grand cathedral which stands proudly on the hilltop abbey of Montecassino has had a rather difficult history, having witnessed centuries of wars and even a devastating earthquake in the 14th century. Montecassino was left in complete ruins after the bombardment by the Allies in 1944, its cathedral being no exception. The cathedral we can see today is the restored vision of the 17th/18th century cathedral designed by Cosimo Fanzago. It's a masterpiece of intricate marble inlays, vaulted and frescoed ceilings, elaborately designed floorings and mosaics, and masterfully carved woodworks. The reconstruction project aimed to utilize the surviving elements after the bombardment. The original parts which survived and you can see today incorporated into the cathedral are:

Marbles- Much of the marble used in the floors and wall inlays of the present cathedral were reutilized from the 17th/18th century cathedral. Some pieces of flooring from the cathedral from the 11th century can also be seen in the Museum at Montecassino.

Frescoes- The vast majority of the cathedral's beautiful frescoes perished in the bombing and have been partially replaced with new frescoes by modern day artists such as Pietro Annigoni. However some 16th century frescoed angels by Severo Ierace survived and can be seen on the presbytery wall.

The High Altar and Bronze Urn- The High Altar was damaged by the bombardment but was entirely restored using most of its original decorations and materials. The bronze urn in the sepulcher containing the remains of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica were unharmed. An anti-aircraft artillery shell was even found on the steps of the altar, having miraculously not exploded.

Paintings- A painting on copper by the artist Giuseppe Cesari from the 17th century which portrays St. Benedict and St. Scholastica survived. It is where it was before, at the High Altar marking their resting place. Another painting which astonishingly survived the destruction of 1944 was an 18th century painting by Paolo de Matteis. It can still be found hung above the altar in the Chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Assumption.

11th Century Bronze Door- There are three bronze doors at the entrance of the cathedral. The middle door is original, made in Constantinople during the church construction done by the abbot Desiderius in 1066. The other two doors were made in 1954 during the reconstruction and were a gift to Montecassino by the President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi.

Choir- The intricately carved woodwork of the choir area from the early 18th century realized by members of the Roman Colicci family partially survived the bombardment. It is made of walnut wood and was perfectly restored thanks to many extremely talented and dedicated artists.

Tabernacle of Nicola Salvi- The tabernacle by the 18th century architect Nicola Salvi, most famous for designing the Trevi Fountain in Rome, survived destruction and can still be found in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Tomb of Piero de' Medici- The impressive marble tomb of Piero de' Medici from the 16th century can still be seen intact in the presbytery.

The Crypt- Many parts of the Crypt below the Cathedral survived the bombardment, including the Chapels of St. Maurus and St. Placid as well as priceless mosaics.