Top Historic Sights in Mortara, Italy

Explore the historic highlights of Mortara

San Lorenzo Church

San Lorenzo church was designed and built by Bartolino da Novara between 1375 and 1380. Restorations took place in 1840 and again in 1916. The unfinished brick facade contains a central rose window and lateral ogival windows, flanked by buttresses that taper into roof spires. Two exterior 15th-century bas-reliefs are above the entry portal. In the pilaster strips are 19th-century copies of depictions of the Saints Alb ...
Founded: 1375-1380 | Location: Mortara, Italy

Abbey of Sant'Albino

The Abbey of Sant"Albino is a church-monastery complex, founded in the 5th century in Mortara.  In 774 the abbot Alkwin Albin added a canonical college to the church, which had become a stopping place for pilgrims traveling south to Rome. The church of Sant"Eusebio had putatively been founded by Charlemagne to bury the soldiers of his army who died locally in a battle on October 12, 773. Among the casualties t ...
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Mortara, Italy

Santa Croce Church

The original church at the site of Santa Croce was founded in 1080, outside the walls of the village under the patronage of Pope Gregory VII. With the expansion of the town, the church was rebuilt in 1596 using designs of Pellegrino Tibaldi. One of the holy relics of the church is putatively a foot print of Christ, though made of Carrara marble, and, according to the tradition, dating back to the period of the Crusades. ...
Founded: 1596 | Location: Mortara, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.