Religious sites in Italy

Santa Maria delle Vigne

Santa Maria delle Vigne is a Roman Catholic basilica church in Genoa, northern Italy. It is known from the 10th century. The main altar was completed in 1730 by Giacomo Antonio Ponsonelli. The church is also the final resting place of the leading early Italian composer Alessandro Stradella, who was murdered in 1682.
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Genoa, 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

Basilica di Sant'Anastasia al Palatino

Sant"Anastasia curch was built between the late 3rd and early 4th century, possibly by a Roman woman named Anastasia. The church is listed under the titulus Anastasiae in the acts of the 499 synod. Later the church was entitled to the martyr with the same name, Anastasia of Sirmium. The church was restored several times: Pope Damasus I (366-383), Pope Hilarius (461-468), Pope John VII (705-707), Pope Leo III (795-81 ...
Founded: c. 300 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

San Siro Church

One of the oldest churches in Genoa, San Siro occupies the site of a former church originally dedicated to the apostles. In later centuries, the church was renamed after St Syrus of Genoa, a beatified bishop. Originally the cathedral of Genoa, it stood outside of the original walls, and was vulnerable to attacks from Saracen pirates; the title of Cathedral was transferred to San Lorenzo. There is another church dedicated ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Genoa, Italy

Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio

One of the most ancient churches in Milan, Basilica of Sant"Ambrogio was built by St. Ambrose in 379–386, in an area where numerous martyrs of the Roman persecutions had been buried. The first name of the church was in fact Basilica Martyrum. In the centuries after its construction, the edifice underwent several restorations and partial reconstructions, assuming the current appearance in the 12th Century, when ...
Founded: c. 1080 AD | Location: Milan, Italy

San Francesco di Paola

San Francesco di Paola church is located at the west side of Piazza del Plebiscito, the city"s main square. In the early 19th century, King Joachim Murat of Naples (Napoleon"s brother-in-law) planned the entire square and the large building with the colonnades as a tribute to the emperor. When Napoleon was finally dispatched, the Bourbons were restored to the throne of Naples. Ferdinand I continued the cons ...
Founded: 1816 | Location: Naples, Italy

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Santa Maria delle grazie ('Holy Mary of Grace') is a church and Dominican convent in Milan, included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list. The church contains the mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, which is in the refectory of the convent. The refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan forms an integral part of this architectural complex, begun in 1463 and reworke ...
Founded: 1463 | Location: Milan, Italy

Santa Chiara

Santa Chiara is a religious complex that includes the Church of Santa Chiara, a monastery, tombs and an archeological museum.  Architecture The double monastic complex was built in 1313–1340 by Queen Sancha of Majorca and her husband King Robert of Naples, who is also buried in the complex. The original church was in traditional Provençal-Gothic style, but was decorated in the 17th century in Baroque style by ...
Founded: 1313-1340 | Location: Naples, Italy

Vigevano Cathedral

The initial structure on the site of Vigevano Cathedral was built before the year 1000 and is referred to in documents of as early as 963 and 967. The current structure was commissioned by Duke Francesco II Sforza in c. 1530 and is dedicated to Saint Ambrose. Construction on the cathedral, designed by Antonio da Lonate (c. 1456–1541), began in 1532 but was not completed until 1612. The edifice of the cathedral was comp ...
Founded: 1532-1612 | Location: Vigevano, Italy

San Domenico Maggiore

San Domenico Maggiore is a Gothic church and monastery, founded by the friars of the Dominican Order. The church incorporates a smaller, original church built on this site in the 10th century, San Michele Arcangelo a Morfisa. Charles II of Naples began the rebuilding that produced the gothic structure that comprises the present church. The work was done between 1283 and 1324, but the church has undergone modificat ...
Founded: 1283-1324 | Location: Naples, Italy

San Crisogono Church

San Crisogono in Trastevere is dedicated to the martyr Saint Chrysogonus. It was probably built in the 4th century under Pope Silvester I (314–335), rebuilt in the 12th century by John of Crema, and again by Giovanni Battista Soria, funded by Scipione Borghese, in the early 17th century. The bell tower dates from the 12th century rebuilding. The interior of the church was rebuilt in the 1620s on the site of a 12th-cent ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Rome, Italy

San Donato Church

San Donato dates from the 12th century and is in Romanesque style. It became a parish under archbishop Siro il Porcello, and was consecrated on May 1, 1189. After the bombardment of 1684 it was restored several times, being again consecrated on December 4, 1892. Other restorations in 1946-1951 have kept its Romanesque appearance. The interior contains a Madonna by the 14th-century painter Nicolò da Voltri; a St ...
Founded: 1189 | Location: Genoa, Italy

Venetian Ghetto

The Venetian Ghetto was the area of Venice in which Jews were compelled to live under the Venetian Republic. The English word 'ghetto' is derived from the Jewish ghetto in Venice, originating from the Venetian ghèto and Italian ghetto. The Venetian Ghetto was instituted on 29 March 1516, though political restrictions on Jewish rights and residences existed before that date. In 1797 the French army of Italy, com ...
Founded: 1516 | Location: Venice, Italy

St. Peter Church

The Church of St. Peter was officially consecrated in 1198. The part in white and black bands dating from the 13th century (probably made between 1256 and 1277), and was restored between 1931 and 1935. This part was derived from an older body, which consists of the early church, but left the bell tower is based on the chapel left of the presbytery. The original church dates from the 5th century, in Syriac type, with rect ...
Founded: 1198 | Location: Porto Venere, Italy

San Lorenzo in Lucina

The Minor Basilica of St. Lawrence in Lucina is dedicated to St. Lawrence of Rome, deacon and martyr. The name 'Lucina' derives from that of the Roman matron of the AD 4th century who permitted Christians to erect a church on the site. Putatively, Pope Marcellus I hid on the site during the persecutions of Roman Emperor Maxentius, and Pope Damasus I was elected there in AD 366. Pope Sixtus III consecrated a church on the ...
Founded: 440 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Certosa di San Martino

The Certosa di San Martino is a former monastery complex and now a museum. Along with Castel Sant"Elmo that stands beside it, this is the most visible landmark of the city, perched atop the Vomero hill that commands the gulf. A Carthusian monastery, it was finished and inaugurated under the rule of Queen Joan I in 1368. It was dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. During the first half of the 16th century it wa ...
Founded: 1368 | Location: Naples, Italy

Cremona Cathedral

Cremona Cathedral bell tower is the famous Torrazzo, symbol of the city and tallest pre-modern tower in Italy. Also adjoining is the baptistery, another important medieval monument. Originally built in Romanesque style, the cathedral has been restored and extended several times, with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. Construction began in 1107, but the works were damaged and halted after an earthquake in 1117. ...
Founded: 1107 | Location: Cremona, Italy

Oratory of San Lorenzo

The Oratory of Saint Lawrence was founded in the late 16th century. The building was given to the Conventual Franciscans in order to spread the cult of the saints Francis and Lawrence. In 1699 Giacomo Serpotta realized a sumptuous stucco decoration. The oratory is particularly famous because of the masterpiece altarpiece Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence (1600 or 1609) by Caravaggio. This important pai ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Palermo, Italy

San Domenico Church

The Church of Saint Dominic hosts the burials of many figures of Sicilian history and culture. For this reason it is known as the 'Pantheon of illustrious Sicilians'. The origin of the building dates back to the Middle Ages. A first Dominican church was built on this site between 1280 and 1285. The church was in Norman–Gothic style and it was also fitted with a convent and a cloister that represented a s ...
Founded: 1640 | Location: Palermo, Italy

Messina Cathedral

Messina Cathedral dates back to the 12th century, but it was thoroughly restored between 1919-1920 due to the earthquake that had caused serious damage in 1908. During the Second World War when the Allied dropped bombs on the city, a fire destroyed part of the cathedral which was rebuilt in 1943. The apsidal area has its original Norman structure and the three outstandingly decorated portals of the façade built followin ...
Founded: 1197 | Location: Messina, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.