Religious sites in 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

Santa Maria in Araceli

The church of Santa Maria in Araceli is a late-Baroque style church built in the late 17th century in Vicenza according to designs attributed to Guarino Guarini. Construction of the present church was begun during 1672-1680, a period during which the famous architect Guarino Guarini resided in Vicenza under the patronage of the Theatines. In 1965, designs for the church were found in the Vatican Library. Construction see ...
Founded: 1672 | Location: Vicenza, Italy

Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Following a plague that afflicted Brescia between 1480 and 1484, there were rumours that a votive fresco depicting the Madonna and Child in front of a house in the San Nazario quarter had developed miraculous powers. On the wave of popular religious fervour, the Catholic church began negotiations in 1486 for the purchase of the house. In 1488, the construction of the Santa Maria dei Miracoli began. The interior, but not ...
Founded: 1488 | Location: Brescia, Italy

Saint-Gilles Church

Tradition dates the foundation of the monastery in Verrès to the 10th century, however the canonicals of St. Egidio are mentioned for the first time in 1050. It was the location of the parish church, which includes buildings dating from the 11h and 18th centuries. The main building, in visible stone, and the adjacent, main bell-tower were built in 1512 by the Provost Charles of Challant. The current parish church of San ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Verrès, 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

San Pietro and San Paolo Church

San Pietro e San Paolo is a Romanesque-style church built in the 9th to 10th century, although the present structure was heavily reconstructed in the 19th century. The façade is not decorated with three entrances, one for each nave. These are separated by columns from a prior temple. Under the presbytery is a crypt. Most of the frescoes of the church are lost, but the adjacent 9 sided baptistery will retains frescoes fro ...
Founded: 9th-10th century AD | Location: Agliate, Italy

Ossario di San Martino

The Ossario di San Martino is a small chapel that houses over 1,200 skulls and over 2,000 bones that belonged to fallen soldiers who fought in a key 19th-century European conflict. In 1859, during the Second Italian War of Independence, there was a great battle here, more commonly called the Battle of Solferino. It was fought out between Austrian and the Piedmontese army. Solferino was the largest battle since that at ...
Founded: 1870 | Location: Desenzano del Garda, Italy

Adria Cathedral

Adria Cathedral (Duomo di Adria) replaced the much older former cathedral nearby, dedicated to Saint John, which continues in use as a parish church. The new cathedral, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, was built in the early 19th century over a 14th-century church. When works were undertaken in 1830 to investigate the stability of the foundations, a Byzantine crypt and frescoes were discovered. The cathedral also con ...
Founded: 1830 | Location: Adria, Italy

Gries Church

The Old Parish Church of Gries contains several precious works of art. Some parts of the original Romanesque church are still preserved, as parts of the walls of the tower and nave. There has probably been a settlement in the area since Roman times. The Gothic, polygonal choir was built in 1414. During the course of the 16th century the Romanesque church was rebuilt. Star-shaped vaults were inserted in the nave, and in ...
Founded: 1414 | Location: Bolzano, Italy

San Francesco Church

San Francesco Church was built between 1280 and the early 14th century, on the site a small church of the Minor Friars dedicated to St. Nicholas. The construction was commissioned by the Lodi bishop Bongiovanni Fissiraga. In 1527 it was assigned to the Reformed Franciscan Order of St. Bernardino, who, in 1840, were replaced by the Barnabites. In the first years of their tenure, they carried on a wide restoration program ...
Founded: 1280 | Location: Lodi, 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

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

Pieve of Saint Syrus

The Pieve of Saint Syrus was one of the pievi, or isolated churches with baptistries, among which the territory of Val Camonica was divided. The complex, which stands on a ridge overlooking the river Oglio, can be reached via a staircase built in the 1930s. The foundation of the church in its present form probably dates to the end of the 11th century, although a fragment of a Roman inscription on a lancet window suggests ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Capo di Ponte, Italy

St. Proculus Church

The small St Proculus church near Naturno is undoubtedly a historical treasure. It dates back to the 7th century AD and features the probably most ancient frescos of the German speaking area and the most complete early fresco cycle of Tyrol. Furthermore there are some Gothic frescoes from the 14th century. The building itself has been established between 630 and 650 AD. The age of the oldest pre-Carolingian frescoes, how ...
Founded: 630-650 AD | Location: Naturno, Italy

Sacro Monte di Ossuccio

The Sacro Monte di Ossuccio is one of the nine sacri monti ('Sacred Mountains' of Piedmont and Lombardy, series of nine calvaries or groups of chapels and other architectural features ) in the Italian regions of Lombardy and Piedmont, in northern Italy, which were inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2003. The devotional complex is located on a prealpine crag some 200 metres above the wester ...
Founded: 1635-1710 | Location: Ossuccio, Italy

San Lorenzo Church

San Lorenzo church was designed and built by Bartolino da Novara between 1375 and 1380. Restorations took place in 1840 and again in 1916. The unfinished brick facade contains a central rose window and lateral ogival windows, flanked by buttresses that taper into roof spires. Two exterior 15th-century bas-reliefs are above the entry portal. In the pilaster strips are 19th-century copies of depictions of the Saints Alb ...
Founded: 1375-1380 | Location: Mortara, 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

Torba Abbey

Torba Abbey is a former Benedictine nunnery in the Castelseprio Archaeological Park. This in turn forms part of the serial site 'Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568–774 A.D.)', comprising seven sites of especial importance for Lombard arts in architecture, pictures and sculpture, entered on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 2011. History The first nucleus of the Castelseprio complex, of ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Castelseprio, Italy

Sant'Antonio Abate

Church of Saint Anthony Abbot (Chiesa di Sant"Antonio Abate) contains fragments of Frescos on three walls around the chancel by Girolamo Romani in collaboration with Daniele Mori, who also worked with him in Pisogne and Bienno. These frescos of scenes from the 'Book of Daniel' are inspired by the grotesque and anti-classical artististic expression that pervades strongly in Valcamonica.
Founded: 1334 | Location: Breno, Italy

San Bernardino

San Bernardino was built in Gothic style from 1451 to 1466. The church"s origin are connected to the presence of San Bernardino in the city from 1422, during which he founded a convent of nuns for the order of the Minor Friars and, later, another one for monks. He was canonized in 1450, six years after his death, and in 1451 his successor Giovanni da Capestrano started the construction of a large complex for the orde ...
Founded: 1451-1466 | Location: Verona, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.