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 Patriarch of Venice ...
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 building ...
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

San Gregorio Church

San Gregorio is a former church founded in the 9th century and, in the 13th century, it became a Benedictine abbey. In the mid-15th century it was rebuilt to the current appearance under design by Antonio da Cremona. In 1775, after a long period of crisis, the monastery was closed and in 1807, after the Napoleonic occupation of Italy, also the parish church was suppressed. Deconsecrated, it was converted in a mint lab ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Venice, Italy

Sassari Cathedral

Sassari Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Nicholas and is the seat of the Archbishop of Sassari. It was built in the Romanesque style in the 12th century. The present building also includes Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical elements. Construction was finished in the 18th century. Gothic vaults, a baroque façade and classical décor are the result of reconstruction work, while its roots are ancient and humble, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sassari, Italy

Genoa Cathedral

Genoa Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Lawrence (San Lorenzo), and is the seat of the Archbishop of Genoa. The cathedral was consecrated by Pope Gelasius II in 1118 and was built between the twelfth century and the fourteenth century as fundamentally a medieval building, with some later additions. Various altars and chapels have been erected between the 14th and 15th centuries. The small loggia on the north-eastern tower ...
Founded: 1118 | Location: Genoa, Italy

San Giuseppe dei Teatini Church

San Giuseppe dei Teatini is considered one of the most outstanding examples of the Sicilian Baroque in Palermo. The church was built at the beginning of the 17th century by Giacomo Besio, a Genoese member of the Theatines order. It has a majestic though simple façade. In the centre niche is housed a statue of San Gaetano, founder of the Theatines order. Another striking feature is the large dome with a blue and yel ...
Founded: 1612-1677 | Location: Palermo, Italy

Santa Caterina Church

The Church of Saint Catherine (Chiesa di Santa Caterina) is a synthesis of Sicilian Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance styles. In 1310 the last will of the rich Benvenuta Mastrangelo determined the foundation of a female monastery under the direction of the Dominican Order. The new monastery was dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria and was erected in the area where the old palace of George of Antioch, admiral of Roger ...
Founded: 1566-1596 | Location: Palermo, 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

Church of San Cataldo

Erected in 1154 as a notable example of the Arab-Norman architecture which flourished in Sicily under Norman rule on the island, the Church of San Cataldo is annexed to that of Santa Maria dell"Ammiraglio. In the 19th century it was restored and brought back to a form more similar to the original medieval edifice. The church has a rectangular plan with blind arches, partially occupied by windows. The ceiling has thr ...
Founded: 1154 | Location: Palermo, Italy

San Matteo al Cassaro Church

The Church of Saint Matthew (San Matteo al Cassaro) was built between 1633 and 1664 by the will of the Miseremini confraternity. The building was probably designed by the architect of the Senate of Palermo, Mariano Smiriglio, but was completed by Gaspare Guercio and Carlo D"Aprile. It is decorated with many works of important Sicilian artists like Vito D"Anna, Pietro Novelli, Giacomo Serpotta, Bartolome ...
Founded: 1633-1664 | Location: Palermo, 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

Cathedral of Monreale

The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the greatest existent examples of Norman architecture. The construction of Monreale, started in 1172, was approved by Pope Alexander III with a bull on 30 December 1174. Works, including an annexed abbey, were completed only in 1267 and the church consecrated at the presence of Pope Clement IV. In 1178 Pope Lucius III established the archdiocese of Monreale and the abbey church was elev ...
Founded: 1172-1267 | Location: Monreale, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.