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

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.