Top Historic Sights in Pavia, Italy

Explore the historic highlights of Pavia

Pavia Cathedral

Pavia Cathedral is the largest in the city and seat of the Diocese of Pavia. The construction was begun in the 15th century on the site of two pre-existing Romanesque, 'twin' cathedrals (Santo Stefano and Santa Maria del Popolo). The marble facing of the exterior was never completed. Until recently, next to the cathedral stood the Civic Tower (Torre Civica), known in 1330 and enlarged in 1583. It collapsed o ...
Founded: 1488 | Location: Pavia, Italy

Pavia Botanical Garden

The Orto Botanico dell"Università di Pavia is a botanical garden maintained by the University of Pavia. The garden was begun in 1773 as a successor to Pavia"s earlier Orto dei Semplici (established 1558). By 1775 the garden was in use, with its first wooden greenhouses constructed in 1776. Nocca Domenico organized and expanded the garden 1797–1826, adding collections to exchange seeds and plants, and buildin ...
Founded: 1773 | Location: Pavia, Italy

Visconti Castle

The Visconti Castle in Pavia was built in 1360 by Galeazzo II Visconti, soon after the taking of the city, a free city-state until then. The credited architect is Bartolino da Novara. The castle used to be the main residence of the Visconti family, while the political capital of the state was Milan. North of the castle a wide park was enclosed, also including the Certosa of Pavia, founded 1396 according to a vow ...
Founded: 1360 | Location: Pavia, Italy

Santa Maria del Carmine Church

Santa Maria del Carmine is considered amongst the best examples of Lombard Gothic architecture. It was begun in 1374 by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, on a project attributed to Bernardo da Venezia. The construction followed a slow pace, and was restarted in 1432, being finished in 1461. Exterior The church has an imposing façade commanding the square with the same name; the slender forms betray a residual Rom ...
Founded: 1374-1461 | Location: Pavia, Italy

San Michele Maggiore Church

The Basilica of San Michele Maggiore is one of the most striking example of Lombard-Romanesque style. It dates from the 11th and 12th centuries. A first church devoted to St. Michael Archangel was built on the location of the Lombard Palace chapel (to this period belongs the lower section of the bell tower), but it was destroyed by a fire in 1004. The current construction was begun in the late 11th century (crypt, choir ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Pavia, Italy

Santa Maria di Canepanova Church

Santa Maria di Canepanova is a Renaissance style Roman Catholic church located in central Pavia, region of Lombardy, Italy. Although in the past the design was popularly attributed to Bramante, the church was designed by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo. Church was built from 1500 to 1507 by Amadeo, who had previously built the tambour of the Milan Cathedral and had been invited by Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, brother of Duke Lud ...
Founded: 1500-1507 | Location: Pavia, Italy

San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro

San Pietro in Ciel d"Oro (Italian for 'Saint Peter in Golden Sky') name refers to the mosaics of gold leaf behind glass tesserae that decorates the ceiling of the apse.  A church of Saint Peter is recorded in Pavia in 604; it was renovated by Liutprand, King of the Lombards (who is buried here) between 720 and 725. The present Romanesque church was consecrated by Pope Innocent II in 1132. The chu ...
Founded: 1132 | Location: Pavia, Italy

San Teodoro Church

San Teodoro is a Romanesque-style church in Pavia, Italy. A church at the site is documented since the year 752. The parish is cited in documents from the mid-13th-century. Initially the church was dedicated to Saint Agnes, but by the year 1000, it was dedicated to San Teodoro, bishop of Pavia who died in 778. The body of the saint, who is the protector of fisherman and those working in the River Ticino, is housed in t ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Pavia, Italy

Santi Primo e Feliciano Church

Santi Primo e Feliciano church at the site is documented since the 12th century. It belonged to a college of canons regular who in 1354, became members of the Congregation of Servants of Mary, and so remained till the 18th century. The convent was suppressed in 1810. The original structure had three naves, but in the 15th century an additional nave was added. In the 16th century, the church was reduced to a single nave, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pavia, Italy

San Lanfranco Church

San Lanfranco is a Romanesque-style Roman Catholic church and former abbey. A paleochristian church at the site, dedicated to the Holy Sepulcher (Santo Sepolcro) was located near here, and the first documentation of a monastery here date to 1090. The monastery became associated with the Vallumbrosan Order, and hosted the bishop Lanfranco Beccaria, till his death in 1198. Pope Alexander III elevated Lanfranco to saint ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Pavia, Italy

Mirabello Castle

The Mirabello Castle is located in Mirabello di Pavia in the area of the Parco Visconteo. The building today is only a wing of the original castle, which was the seat of the Captain of the Park, the authority administering the Parco Visconteo on behalf of the Visconti family. Since the 12th century the area had been occupied by a Cistercians monastery. In 1325 the Fiamberti family of Pavia acquired goods and lands ...
Founded: 1325 | Location: Pavia, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.