Religious sites in 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

Santo Stefano Church

Santo Stefano is the third largest monastery church in Venice. Built by the Augustinian Hermits in the 13th century, it was re-structured a century later, and subsequent embellishments made it into one of the finest examples of Venetian Flamboyant Gothic architectures. On the fourteenth-century façade in brick, the superb marble portal is highly underlined, work by Bartolomeo Bon. The church was reconsecrated in 1374. ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Venice, Italy

Santa Maria Maggiore Church

The church Santa Maria Maggiore (late 15th century) stands on the site of the former Lombard church of San Martino (founded in the second half of the 8th century). It has a rectangular shape with a polygonal apse and is oriented east-west. It has a single nave, divided by three arches. It is decorated with early 15th-century frescoes. The frescoes at the bottom of the north wall even belong to an earlier period. The conte ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Sirmione, Italy

San Carlo al Corso

San Carlo al Corso is a neo-classic church in the center of Milan. The church is managed by the Servite Order. The church facade was designed in 1844 by Carlo Amati and was finished in 1847. It then served as a model for the Chiesa Rotonda in San Bernardino, Switzerland, 1867. The complex was built to replace Convent of the Servite founded as early as 1290 and later was suppressed in 1799. The new church was buil ...
Founded: 1844 | Location: Milan, Italy

San Marcello al Corso

San Marcello al Corso was built before 418, when Pope Boniface I was elected there. Pope Adrian I, in the 8th century, built a church on the same place, which is currently under the modern church. On 22 May 1519, a fire destroyed the church. The money collected for its rebuilding was used to bribe the landsknechts, who were pillaging the city during the Sack of Rome (1527). The work was continued by Antonio da Sangall ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Santa Maria Assunta Church

The history of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is closely linked to the Benedictine monastery of St. Mary, which, according to oral tradition, was built when a Byzantine icon of the Virgin was brought to Positano and venerated in our church thereafter. The abbey allegedly dates back to the second half of the 10h century. It was mentioned for the first time in a manuscript of the late 11th century. The years of ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Positano, Italy

Como Cathedral

Como Cathedral is one of the most important buildings in the region. It is commonly described as the last Gothic cathedral built in Italy: construction on it, on the site of the earlier Romanesque cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Maggiore, began in 1396, 10 years after the foundation of Milan Cathedral. The construction works, started under the supervision of Lorenzo degli Spazzi di Laino, did not finish until 1770 with ...
Founded: 1396 | Location: Como, Italy

San Gregorio Armeno

San Gregorio Armeno ('St. Gregory of Armenia') is a church and a monastery in Naples. It is one of the most important Baroque complexes in Naples. In the 8th century, the iconoclast decrees in Greece caused a number of religious orders to flee the Byzantine empire and seek refuge elsewhere. San Gregorio Armeno in Naples was built in the 10th century over the remains of a Roman temple dedicated to Ceres, ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Naples, Italy

Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo

The Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo is one of the largest churches in Venice with the status of minor basilica. After the 15th century the funeral services of all of Venice"s doges were held here, and twenty-five doges are buried in the church. The huge brick edifice was designed in the Italian Gothic style, and completed in the 1430s. It is the principal Dominican church of Venice, and as such was built to hold l ...
Founded: 1430s | Location: Venice, Italy

Santa Maria dei Miracoli Church

Santa Maria dei Miracoli, also known as the 'marble church', it is one of the best examples of the early Venetian Renaissance including colored marble, a false colonnade on the exterior walls (pilasters), and a semicircular pediment.  Built between 1481 and 1489 by Pietro Lombardo to house a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. The plans for the church were expanded in 1484 to include the construction of a new ...
Founded: 1481-1489 | Location: Venice, Italy

Ravello Cathedral

Built in the 11th century with support from the Rufolo family, the Duomo is a combination of Baroque and Romanesque styles. Dedicated to St. Pantaleone, the church has undergone extensive modifications and restorations over the past 900 years. The Duomo’s shining white façade dates back to the last major restoration in 1931. The Duomo’s bell tower, which dates back to the 13th century, shows Moorish and Byzantine inf ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Ravello, Italy

Santa Susanna Church

The Church of Saint Susanna at the Baths of Diocletian is located on the Quirinal Hill in Rome. There has been a titular church associated to its site as far back as AD 280. The current church was rebuilt from 1585 to 1603 for a monastery of Cistercian nuns founded on the site in 1587 which still exists there. About 280, an early Christian house of worship was established on this site, which, like many of the earliest C ...
Founded: 280 AD / 1585 | Location: Rome, Italy

Sant'Agnello Maggiore Church

According to tradition, Agnello of Naples, now co-patron (compatrono) of the city of Naples, is buried in the Sant"Agnello Maggiore. Agnello was a 6th-century Neapolitan bishop, who defended the city against the besieging Lombards. Supposedly the church had been founded and devoted to the Virgin, by Agnello"s parents. Recent studies have shown that the church was built atop an Ancient Roman Acropolis from the ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Naples, Italy

Trento Cathedral

Trento Cathedral (Duomo di Trento) was built in 1212 over a pre-existing 6th-century church devoted to Saint Vigilius, patron saint of the city. Bishop Federico Wanga commissioned the architect Adamo d"Arogno to construct the new Lombard-Romanesque church. Works continued for more than a hundred years, with the Gothic style becoming increasingly evident. The façade has a large rose window including The Wheel of For ...
Founded: 1212 | Location: Trento, Italy

Naples Cathedral

The present Naples cathedral was commissioned by King Charles I of Anjou. Construction continued during the reign of his successor, Charles II (1285-1309) and was completed in the early 14th century under Robert of Anjou. It was built on the foundations of two palaeo-Christian basilicas, whose traces can still be clearly seen. Underneath the building excavations have revealed Greek and Roman artifacts. The Archbish ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Naples, Italy

Cappella Sansevero

The Cappella Sansevero contains works of art by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century. Its origin dates to 1590 when John Francesco di Sangro, Duke of Torremaggiore, after recovering from a serious illness, had a private chapel built in what were then the gardens of the nearby Sansevero family residence, the Palazzo Sansevero. The building was converted into a family burial chapel by Alessandro di Sa ...
Founded: 1590 | Location: Naples, Italy

Santa Sabina Church

The Basilica of Saint Sabina is a titular minor basilica and mother church of the Dominicans. Santa Sabina is the oldest extant Roman basilica in Rome that preserves its original colonnaded rectangular plan and architectural style. Its decorations have been restored to their original restrained design. Other basilicas, such as Santa Maria Maggiore, are often heavily and gaudily decorated. Because of its simplicity, the Sa ...
Founded: 422-432 | Location: Rome, Italy

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

The Papal Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls (Basilica Papale di San Paolo fuori le Mura), is one of Rome"s four ancient major basilicas. The Basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of St. Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle"s execution, his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae. In 386, Emperor Theodosius I began erecting a much larger and ...
Founded: 386 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Basilica of San Lorenzo

The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore was originally built in Roman times and is one of the oldest churches in Milan. The basilica was built between the late fourth and early fifth centuries. The exact date is uncertain, as are the name of who commissioned it and the circumstances of its foundation. What is certain is that at the time of its construction the basilica was the largest, centrally planned building in the Wes ...
Founded: c. 364 AD | Location: Milan, 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.