Religious sites in 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

Santa Ninfa dei Crociferi Church

Santa Ninfa dei Crociferi – dedicated to one of the patron saints of Palermo – is one of the first buildings erected after the opening of Via Maqueda, the second most important street of the city. The construction of the church began on in 1601. The construction was fostered by the Palermo Senate and financed with donations from several noble families of the city. The original project was probably prepared in Rome. ...
Founded: 1601 | Location: Palermo, Italy

Basilica della Collegiata

The Basilica della Collegiata was built in the early 18th century, after the earthquake of 1693 that had destroyed most of the city. The design of the church is attributed to Angelo Italia (1628–1700), who changed the orientation of the previous edifice destroyed by the earthquake, in order to have it facing the new via Uzeda (current Etnea Street) according to the rebuilding plan of the city. The façade, design ...
Founded: 1768 | Location: Catania, 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

Sant'Agata Church

A church at the site of Sant"Agata was present by the 8th century, when the neighborhood was located outside the city walls, but after the 1184 fire destroyed the ancient church, it was reconstructed in the 15th-century in Gothic style. Destruction by fire of this church was somewhat paradoxical, since Saint Agatha was the saint invoked for protection against fires. Further modifications were completed along the cent ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Brescia, 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

Montevergine Church

Montevergine Church was built between 1695 and 1697, after the 1693 Sicily earthquake that leveled the town. It was built for the Benedictine nuns of the Order of Monte Vergine. The church is dedicated to St Jerome. The concave facade, flanked by two bell-towers, was completed in 1748 by Vincenzo Sinatra. The church rises at the top of stone steps, and the layout has a single nave flanked by Corinthian columns, and a ...
Founded: 1695 | Location: Noto, Italy

Cefalù Cathedral

The Cathedral of Cefalù is one of nine structures included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale. The cathedral was erected between 1131 and 1240 in the Norman architectural style, the island of Sicily having been conquered by the Normans in 1091. According to tradition, the building was erected after a vow made to the Holy Saviour by ...
Founded: 1131-1240 | Location: Cefalù, 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

Cremona Baptistery

The Cremona Baptistery is annexed to the city's Cathedral. Built in 1167, it is characterized by an octagonal plan, a reference to the cult of St. Ambrose of Milan, symbolizing the Eight Day of Resurrection and, thenceforth, the Baptism. The edifice mixes Romanesque and Lombard-Gothic styles, the latter evident in the preference for bare brickwork walls. To the 16th century restorations belong the marble cover of s ...
Founded: 1167 | Location: Cremona, 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

Santa Chiara Church

The church of Santa Chiara is located in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, next to the former Benedictine monastery of the Holy Crucifix.The church was designed by Rosario Gagliardi around 1730, it was completed in 1758 and later annexed to the monastery belonged the Benedictine nuns (which is now a museum). It represents an important example of baroque architecture.The façade of the church was originally located in Corso Vittor ...
Founded: 1730-1758 | Location: Noto, 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 Fortune. ...
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 more beaut ...
Founded: 386 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.