Religious sites in Italy

St Mark's Basilica

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (Basilica di San Marco is the most famous of the Venice"s churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge"s Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city"s cathedral since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patr ...
Founded: 1063-1093 | Location: Venice, Italy

Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) is the third largest church in the world and it took nearly six centuries to complete. History Saint Ambrose built a new basilica on this site at the beginning of the 5th century, with an adjoining basilica added in 836. When fire damaged both buildings in 1075, they were rebuilt as the Duomo. In 1386, Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo began construction of the cathedral. In 1389, a ...
Founded: 1386 | Location: Milan, Italy

Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli

The Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven (Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli al Campidoglio) is a titular basilica located on the highest summit of the Campidoglio. The shrine is known for housing relics belonging to Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine and various minor relics from the Holy Sepulchre. The foundation of the church was laid on the site of a Byzantine abbey mentioned in 574. Many buildings ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rome, Italy

Pantheon

The Pantheon (meaning 'temple of every god') is a former Roman temple, now a church, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC-14 AD). The present building was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. He retained Agrippa's original inscription, which has confused its date of construction as the original Pantheon burnt down so it is not ...
Founded: 126 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

San Marco Church

San Marco is a minor basilica in Rome dedicated to St. Mark the Evangelist. It was first built in 336 by Pope Mark, whose remains are in an urn located below the main altar. The basilica is the national church of Venice in Rome. After a restoration in 792 by Pope Adrian I, the church was rebuilt by Pope Gregory IV in 833. Besides the addition of a Romanesque bell tower in 1154, the major change in the architecture of th ...
Founded: 336 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Santa Maria Antiqua

Located at the foot of the Palatine Hill, Santa Maria Antiqua is the oldest and most significant Christian monument in the Roman Forum. The church was abandoned in the 9th century after an earthquake buried the buildings; it remained sealed for over 1000 years until its rediscovery in the early 20th century. Therefore, Santa Maria Antiqua represents a key element for the understanding of the cultural and urban developmen ...
Founded: 5th century | Location: Rome, Italy

Santa Francesca Romana Church

Santa Francesca Romana church was built in the second half of the 10th century, incorporating an 8th-century oratory that Pope Paul I excavated in the wing of the portico of the Temple of Venus and Roma. It was rebuilt by Pope Honorius III in the 13th century, when the campanile was built and the apse was decorated with mosaics of a Maestà, the Madonna enthroned accompanied by saints. The interior has been altered since. ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Rome, Italy

Santa Maria della Salute

Santa Maria della Salute (Saint Mary of Health), commonly known simply as the Salute, stands on the narrow finger of Punta della Dogana, between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, making the church visible when entering the Piazza San Marco from the water. The Salute is part of the parish of the Gesuati and is the most recent of the so-called plague churches. In 1630, Venice experienced an unusually devastating outb ...
Founded: 1631 | Location: Venice, Italy

San Lorenzo in Damaso

San Lorenzo in Damaso is a parish and titular church in central Rome. It is incorporated into the papal Palazzo della Cancelleria. Archaeological evidence suggests the site, like those of many churches in Rome, may have formerly housed a pagan temple. The first documentary evidence of a church at this site dates from AD 499. According to tradition, in the AD 380s a basilica church was erected by Pope Damasus I in his own ...
Founded: c. 380 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Amalfi Cathedral

Amalfi Cathedral is a 9th-century Roman Catholic cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo, Amalfi. It is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew whose relics are kept here. The newer cathedral was built next to the older basilica that was built on the ruins of a previous temple. The remains of St. Andrew were reportedly brought to Amalfi from Constantinople in 1206 during the Fourth Crusade by Cardinal Peter of Capua. In ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Amalfi, Italy

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is a Papal major basilica and the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome. It is one of the only four churches that hold the title of 'major basilica' (all in Rome). It is agreed that the present church was built under Pope Sixtus III (432-440). The dedicatory inscription on the triumphal arch, Sixtus Episcopus plebi Dei, ('Sixtus the bishop to the people of God') is an indication of ...
Founded: 432 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Chiostro del Paradiso

The Chiostro del Paradiso ('Cloister of Paradise') was built by Filippo Augustariccio between 1266 and 1268 and was used as a burial ground for noble families of Amalfi. The white columns and pointed arches reflect the clear influence that the Arab world had on Amalfi, similar to those found in the courts of the palaces of the Middle East. It is a true open-air museum, with Roman and medieval pillars, sarcop ...
Founded: 1266 | Location: Amalfi, Italy

Santa Maria in Trastevere

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I.  The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, a ...
Founded: 340 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

the basilica of Saint John Lateran was built under pope Melchiade (311-314). It is the oldest surviving church in the world. Due to the fact that the pope is also the bishop of Rome, Saint John in Lateran is also Rome's Cathedral. The present structure of the Basilica resembles the Saint Peter's basilica. The original plan had already five aisles. The ancient church was residence of the popes until the coming back from t ...
Founded: 311-314 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Bergamo Cathedral

Since the 9th century there were two cathedrals in Bergamo: one was the basilica of Saint Alexander, which stood on the site believed to be that of his martyrdom, and the other was dedicated to Saint Vincent, construction of which apparently began in the Lombard era, on the site of the present cathedral. Bishop Giovanni Barozzi commissioned the re-building of the cathedral of St. Vincent in the mid-15th century, for th ...
Founded: 1697 | Location: Bergamo, Italy

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, usually just called the Frari, is one of the greatest churches in Venice. The Franciscans were granted land to build a church in 1250, but the building was not completed until 1338. Work almost immediately began on its much larger replacement, the current church, which took over a century to build. The campanile, the second tallest in the city after that of San Marco, was c ...
Founded: 1338 | Location: Venice, Italy

San Giorgio Maggiore Church

San Giorgio Maggiore is a 16th-century Benedictine church on the island of the same name in Venice, designed by Andrea Palladio, and built between 1566 and 1610. The church is a basilica in the classical renaissance style and its brilliant white marble gleams above the blue water of the lagoon opposite the Piazzetta and forms the focal point of the view from every part of the Riva degli Schiavoni. The first church on the ...
Founded: 1565 | Location: Venice, Italy

Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore was founded in 1137 on the site of another church from the 8th century dedicated to St Mary, which had been in turn erected over a Roman temple of the Clemence. The high altar was consecrated in 1185 and in 1187 the presbytery and the transept wings were completed. Due to financial troubles, the works dragged for the whole 13th–14th centuries. The bell tower was built from 1436 (being completed aro ...
Founded: 1137 | Location: Bergamo, Italy

San Teodoro Church

San Teodoro is a 6th-century church in Rome. It was dedicated to Theodore of Amasea and given to the Orthodox community of Rome by Pope John Paul II in 2004. It and is located on an ancient road between the Roman Forum and Forum Boarium, along the north-western foot of the Palatine Hill. However, there is no definitive evidence of the church"s existence before the 9th century. As the dedication to an eastern saint s ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Santa Maria Formosa

Santa Maria Formosa was erected in 1492 under the design by Renaissance architect Mauro Codussi. It lies on the site of a former church dating from the 7th century, which, according to tradition, was one of the eight founded by San Magno, bishop of Oderzo. The name 'formosa' relates to an alleged appearance of the Holy Virgin disguised as a voluptuous woman. The plan is on the Latin cross, with a nave and two a ...
Founded: 1492 | Location: Venice, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Het Steen

Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp's oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.

Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt. The remaining building, heavily changed, contains a shipping museum, with some old canal barges displayed on the quay outside.

In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here you’ll also find a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in WWII.

There are some beautiful plaques on the back side of the Steen Castle at Antwerp. Canadian visitors will especially want to see the plaques thanking the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry for their part in the liberation of Antwerp, in 1944.

At the entrance to Het Steen is a bas-relief of Semini, above the archway, around 2nd century. Semini is the Scandinavian God of youth and fertility (with symbolic phallus). A historical plaque near Het Steen explains that women of the town appealed to Semini when they desired children; the god was reviled by later religious clergy. Inhabitants of Antwerp previously referred to themselves as 'children of Semini'.

At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.