Monasteries in Italy

San Lazzaro Monastery

San Lazzaro degli Armeni is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon. Settled in the 9th century, it was a leper colony during the Middle Ages. It was later abandoned. In 1717 San Lazzaro was ceded by the Republic of Venice to Mkhitar Sebastatsi (Mechitar) and his followers who established an Armenian Catholic monastery. The monastery currently contains a church with a campanile (bell tower), residential quarters, library, ...
Founded: 1717 | Location: Venice, Italy

Cervara Abbey

Cervara Abbey was built in 1361 by Ottone Lanfranco, a priest at the church of Santo Stefano in Genoa, on land owned by the Carthusian monks. It was dedicated to St. Jerome. Later, Pope Eugene IV transferred ownership of it to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino (c. 1420) and had it restored. The monastery became a center for the spread of Flemish artistic influence in Liguria, with works such as the Cervara Polypt ...
Founded: 1361 | Location: Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

Matris Domini Monastery

The Matris Domini Monastery was an enclosed female monastery. It houses a museum featuring several medieval frescoes with religious themes. The monastery was founded during the second half of the 13th century by the Dominican Order to house a community of nuns. There is no certain date for the foundation, probably during the rule of Bishop Algiso da Rosate or that of Erbordo Ungano. Its church was consecrated on 25 M ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bergamo, Italy

Viboldone Abbey

The Abbey of Viboldone was founded in 1176 and completed in 1348 by the Humiliati, an order of monks, nuns and lay people who worked in the abbey producing wool cloths and cultivated the nearby fields with innovative techniques. After the suppression of the Humiliati by Pope Pius V (1571), the abbey went to the Olivetan Benedictines, who were forced to leave the abbey in 1773, when Lombardy fell in Austrian hand ...
Founded: 1176 | Location: Viboldone, Italy

Astino Abbey

Astino Abbey was founded around 1070 by a group of members of the Vallumbrosan Order led by John Gualbert during a time in which, through reforms, clerics were trying to revive the Catholic Church"s position. The Romanesque church and the first conventual buildings were built by Bertario, the first abbot, who supervised the abbey for 21 years until 1128. The monastery was suppressed on 4 July 1797 by the ciil ...
Founded: 1070 | Location: Bergamo, Italy

Mirasole Abbey

Mirasole Abbey was founded as a monastery of the Humiliati in the first half of the 13th century. Its economy was based on the working of wool and the production of woollen cloth. The Humiliati were abolished in 1571, and the abbey became the property of the Collegio Elvetico in Milan, which was taken over for the use of the Austrian administration in 1786 (the building is now the Palazzo del Senato); its spiritual lif ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Milan, Italy

Franciscan Monastery

The Franciscan order arrived in Brescia around 1220, after a visit to the city by the founder himself. Construction of the convent structures began around 1254 and continued for over a century. The cloister of the adjacent Convent, designed by Guglielmo da Frisone, was completed in 1394. In the 14th century, it is likely the entire walls and ceilings were frescoed, but the creation of chapels and other restorations co ...
Founded: 1254 | Location: Brescia, Italy

Praglia Abbey

Praglia Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1080. The first abbot of Praglia, Iselberto dei Tadi, who had become a monk in the monastery of San Benedetto Polirone in Mantua, is mentioned in a Papal Bull of Calixtus II in 1123. Until 1304 Praglia was under the direction of more powerful abbeys such as that of Polirone, the Abbey of Santa Giustina in Padua, and Cluny. By the 14th century the abbey had gained more a ...
Founded: 1080 | Location: Teolo, Italy

Sant'Andrea Abbey

According some sources Sant"Andrea Abbey in Borzonasca was built by Lombardians in 712-714 AD. Today most of the buildings date from the 16th and 17th century. The tower was erected in the early 1300s.
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Borzonasca, Italy

Marienberg Abbey

Marienberg Abbey was founded in 1149 or 1150 by Ulrich von Tarasp and other nobles. It has maintained a long tradition of education and, at 1,340 m, it is Europe’s highest abbey. It retains a Baroque style with Romanesque elements, and has some well-maintained frescos. The history of the foundation goes back to Charlemagne, who established a Benedictine monastery between 780 and 786 near Taufers, a town which on the Vi ...
Founded: 1149 | Location: Mals, Italy

Monastero di Santa Lucia

Monastero di Santa Lucia (Monastery of Saint Lucy) is an architectural complex in the city of Adrano. The former monastery currently serves as an elementary school. The monastery was founded in 1157 and was rebuilt in the 15th and 17th centuries. The church adjoining the monastery was erected in 1596 and was rebuilt in the late 18th century. The façade has three orders. Two bell towers rise on the sides with quadrangula ...
Founded: 1157 | Location: Adrano, Italy

Säben Abbey

Säben Abbey was established in 1687, when it was first settled by the nuns of Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg. Situated on the 'holy mountain', Säben was for centuries a centre of pilgrimage and controlled an extensive religious precinct. On the site of the present nunnery there was an earlier Roman settlement. Between the 6th century and about 960 there was a bishopric (episcopatus Sabiona) seated here. The church 'im Weinb ...
Founded: 1687 | Location: Chiusa, Italy

Eremo di San Colombano

Eremo di San Colombano monastery is notable for its location in the side of a mountain. Some natural caves, halfway up the rock wall of the gorge formed by the stream of Leno Vallarsa were certainly used from 753 AD (the date inscribed on the rock) from a Monaco hermit. According to legend, the hermit San Colombano first arrived there and killed the dragon that caused the death of children baptised in the waters of the r ...
Founded: 753 AD | Location: Trambileno, Italy

Ferrania Abbey

Abbey of Ferrania and parish church of Saints Peter and Paul, founded in 1096, is one of the oldest settlements in the area. The structure, located in the hamlet of San Pietro, has preserved the original plant, transforming into homes those which were the convent areas.
Founded: 1096 | Location: Ferrania, Italy

Muri-Gries Abbey

Muri-Gries abbey, first inhabited by Augustinian monks (1406), was pillaged by insurgent peasants in 1525 and was devastated during the Napoleonic wars. Suppressed in 1807 by the Bavarian government, it was given to the Benedictine priests of Muri (Switzerland) by the Austrian emperor in 1845. The oldest part is represented by the castle built in the twelfth century by the counts Morit-Greifenstein, whose keep has now be ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Bolzano, Italy

Santo Spirito Abbey

The Abbey of the Santo Spirito (Holy Spirit), built by the Norman Count Ruggero and his wife Queen Adelasia in 1092–1098, was consecrated in 1153. It has been greatly altered in subsequent centuries. The original outlines are still identifiable to the rear, where its characteristic massive jutting apses can be seen. These are separated by flat pilasters and connected by a series of small arches. The left-hand entrance h ...
Founded: 1092-1153 | Location: Caltanissetta, Italy

Maria Weißenstein Monastery

The beginnings of Maria Weißenstein go back to 1553 when Holy Mary appeared to the miner Leonhard Weißensteiner. He built a chapel which soon became a place of pilgrimage. The first Baroque church was built in 1673 and renotaved 1719-1722. The three towers were demolished in the late 1700s when the monastery was dissolved. The reconstruction began in 1800. In August, 1885, the image of the grieving Madonna, which Le ...
Founded: 1553 | Location: Weissenstein, Italy

Tiglieto Abbey

Tiglieto Abbey, founded in 1120, was the first Cistercian abbey to be founded in Italy, and also the first outside France. It was a daughter house of La Ferté Abbey. The first abbot was probably Opizzone. It may have gained the name Tiglieto after being given the estate of that name by the Margrave Anselm of Ponsone in 1131. In 1442, through Pope Eugenius IV, Tiglieto became an abbey in commendam. In 1648 it was turne ...
Founded: 1120 | Location: Tiglieto, Italy

Santa Maria di Novara Abbey

Santa Maria di Novara Abbey was founded in 1137, at the initiative of the same Ruggero II who appointed Basilian monks. The Cistercian community is abutted on the slopes of the reels in Contrada Sant"Anna with the title of Santa Maria of the Annunciation. The primitive settlement were received only ruins. A place less impervious, on the margins of a water course is identified more downstream, today called Badiavecch ...
Founded: 1137 | Location: Novara di Sicilia, Italy

San Salvatore Monastery

Monastero di San Salvatore is located on the left bank of the Oglio river, in the municipality of Capo di Ponte. Established at the end of the 11th century, it was the first and only Cluniac priory in Val Camonica. The monastery is an important example of Early Medieval religious architecture.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Capo di Ponte, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.