Religious sites in Italy

Saint Francis of Assisi Church

The history of the Saint Francis of Assisi Church starts with the arrival of the first Franciscans in Sicily. In 1224 the chronicler Vadingo reported the groundwork of the first Franciscan convent near the Walls of Palermo. However, shortly after, the local clergy with the support of the Saracens chased the friars out from the city. The friars went to Viterbo and appealed to the Pope Gregory IX. The pontiff ordered Lando ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Palermo, Italy

Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato

The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato construction was begun by the Franciscans in 1520 in a site previously occupied by the small church of Santa Maria del Prato, belonging to the Humiliati. Works were however halted in 1537, and in 1591 the Lomellini family continued the reconstruction, directed by Taddeo Carlone. In the early 17th century the rich Baroque decoration was executed, with Andrea Ansal ...
Founded: 1520 | Location: Genoa, Italy

Mantua Cathedral

Mantua Cathedral (Duomo di Mantova) is the seat of the Bishop of Mantua. An initial structure probably existed on the site in the Early Christian era, which was followed by a building destroyed by a fire in 894. The current church was rebuilt in 1395–1401 with the addition of side chapels and a Gothic west front, which can still be seen in a sketch by Domenico Morone (preserved in the Palazzo Ducale of Mant ...
Founded: 1395-1401 | Location: Mantua, Italy

San Giacomo Church

Bellagio"s most interesting Romanesque church is the Basilica of San Giacomo, built in the early 12th century by master builders from Como. It is one of the best examples of Lombardian Romanesque style.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bellagio, Italy

Basilica of Santa Pudenziana

The basilica of Santa Pudenziana is a 4th-century church of Rome, dedicated to Saint Pudentiana, sister of Saint Praxedis and daughter of Saint Pudens. It has been suggested that there was no such person as Pudentiana, the name having originated as an adjective used to describe the house of Pudens, Domus Pudentiana. The church of Santa Pudenziana is recognized as the oldest place of Christian worship in Rome. It was bui ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Basilica of San Vitale

The Basilica of Sts. Vitalis, Valeris, Gervase and Protase is commonly named Basilica di San Vitale. It was built in 400 with funds provided by Vestina, a wealthy dowager, and was consecrated by Pope Innocent I in 401/402. The dedication to St. Vitalis and his family (Saint Valeria, his wife, and Sts. Gervasius and Protasius, their sons) is dated to 412. San Vitale was restored several times, the most important being the ...
Founded: 400 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Basilica of Sant'Andrea

The Basilica of Sant"Andrea is a minor basilica in Mantua. It is one of the major works of 15th-century Renaissance architecture in Northern Italy. Commissioned by Ludovico III Gonzaga, the church was begun in 1472 according to designs by Leon Battista Alberti on a site occupied by a Benedictine monastery, of which the bell tower (1414) remains. The building, however, was only finished 328 years later. Tho ...
Founded: 1472 | Location: Mantua, Italy

Santi Bonifacio ed Alessio

The Basilica dei Santi Bonifacio e(d) Alessio is a basilica, rectory church served by the Somaschans, on the Aventine Hill in Rome. It is dedicated to Saint Boniface of Tarsus and (originally only) Saint Alexius.  Founded between the 3rd and 4th centuries, it was restored in 1216 by Pope Honorius III (some columns of his building survive in the present building's eastern apse), in 1582, in the 1750s by Tommaso De Marchi ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Sant Anastasia Church

Sant"Anastasia church building started in 1280 and completed in 1400, designed by the Dominican friars. It took its name from a pre-existing temple built by King Theoderic the Great upon which was built the actual church. Since 1307, it is in fact co-entitled to St. Peter of Verona, martyr and co-patron of the city. Consecrated only in 1471, until 1808 the church was held by the Dominicans. The 72 mt tall belltower ...
Founded: 1280 | Location: Verona, Italy

Bolzano Cathedral

Cathedral of the Diocese of Bolzano conceals the vestiges of an early Christian, a late Medieval and a Romanesque basilica (1180). After one century the site has opened into a new imposing construction, completed around 1420, synthesizing, over a few decades, the intervention of Lombard mastery with the Gothic style of the Suevian mastery. The bell tower, with an open fretwork spire in sandstone, which stands 65m tall, wa ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Bolzano, Italy

St. Michael's Church

The round parish church of Saint Michael dates from the 11th century. The Gothic choir and the bell tower were built in the 15th century while the nave is from the 16th century. The main artwork is a wooden Cireneus dates from the 15th century.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Brixen, Italy

Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua

The Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, locally as 'il Santo' it is one of the eight international shrines recognized by the Holy See. Construction of the Basilica probably began around 1232, just one year after the death of St. Anthony. It was completed in 1310 although several structural modifications (including the falling of the ambulatory and the construction of a new choir screen) took place bet ...
Founded: 1232-1310 | Location: Padua, Italy

Sant'Agata dei Goti

Sant"Agata dei Goti is dedicated to the martyr Saint Agatha. The church was built by Ricimer for the Goths c. 460. The Goths were Arians, so when Arianism was suppressed in Rome, the building was taken over by the Catholic Church, in 592 or 593, and reconsecrated by Pope Gregory the Great. It was restored in the 9th century, and a Benedictine monastery was founded next to it. The apse of the church collapsed in 1589, ...
Founded: 460 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Rotonda di San Lorenzo

The Rotonda di San Lorenzo is the most ancient church in Mantua. It is now sunk below the level of the Piazza della Erbe. It probably stands on the site of a Roman temple that was dedicated to the goddess Venus. It was built during the reign of the Canossa family in the late 11th century. Inspired by the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem and dedicated to the martyr St. Lawrence, it has a central plan and has ma ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mantua, Italy

Church of the Gesù

The Church of the Gesù is one of the most important Baroque churches in Palermo. The Jesuits arrived in Palermo in 1549, and by the late 16th century began building a church adjacent to their mother house (Casa Professa). The original design called for a single nave with large transepts and several side chapels, but it was changed by the early 17th century, to a more grandiose layout typical of Jesuit architecture. Natal ...
Founded: 1636 | Location: Palermo, Italy

Santa Corona Church

Construction on the Santa Corona church was begun in 1261 by the Blessed (Beato) Bishop Bartolomeo di Breganze to house a thorn from the supposed relic of the crown (corona) of thorns forced on Jesus during his passion. The thorn had been given to this bishop as a gift from Louis IX of France. The church belonged to the Dominican order until suppression during the Napoleonic era. The church has an altarpiece depicting, t ...
Founded: 1261 | Location: Vicenza, Italy

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is a 5th-century church in the Trastevere rione. The first church on this site was founded probably in the 3rd century, by Pope Urban I; it was devoted to the young Roman woman Cecilia, martyred it is said under Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander (AD 222-235). Tradition holds that the church was built over the house of the saint. The baptistery associated with this church, together with the rema ...
Founded: 822 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Verona Cathedral

Verona Cathedral was erected after two Palaeo-Christian churches on the same site had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1117. Built in Romanesque style, the cathedral was consecrated on September 13, 1187. The structure was later modified by several renovation interventions, although the plan has remained unchanged. The façade is divided into three parts, with a pediment and a two storied projecting porch or prot ...
Founded: 1187 | Location: Verona, Italy

Brixen Cathedral

The bishop"s residence has been located in Brixen since the sixth century. Between 960 and 990 AD, Brixen supplanted nearby Säben as the episcopal see, and has retained its status since that time. Brixen Cathedral is the highest-ranking church in South Tyrol, and historically one of the most interesting. Today, the cathedral thus reflects almost all architectural styles from the Early Romanesque. The original Otton ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Brixen, Italy

San Domenico Church

San Domenico is a Baroque-style, Roman Catholic church and monastery erected between 1703 and 1727 using designs by Rosario Gagliardi. The interior has three naves with polychrome marble side altars. The interior has a rich stucco decoration. The third altar to the left depicts a sculpted crucifixion with scenes of the Passion. Others depict a St Dominic receiving the Holy Spirit and a Madonna of the Rosary (1712) by ...
Founded: 1703-1727 | Location: Noto, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Luxembourg Palace

The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.

The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.

In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.

During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.

Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.

The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.

During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.