Religious sites in Italy

Basilica di San Fedele

The Basilica of San Fedele in Como is located in the city center and is dedicated to Saint Fidelis martyr. It derives from an earlier Christian church, dating from the seventh century, dedicated to Euphemia. The present church dates from 1120, the building is Romanesque and not just the original three naves irregular grafted onto a central plant, also irregular due to the smaller size compared to the two main apse of the ...
Founded: 1120 | Location: Como, Italy

Santi Quattro Coronati

Santi Quattro Coronati is an ancient basilica in Rome. The church dates back to the 4th (or 5th) century, and is devoted to four anonymous saints and martyrs. The complex of the basilica with its two courtyards, the fortified Cardinal Palace with the Saint Silvester Chapel, and the monastery with its cosmatesque cloister is built in a silent and green part of Rome, between the Colosseum and San Giovanni in Laterano. Trad ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Rome, Italy

San Marco Church

According to tradition, the church was dedicated to St. Mark, patron of Venice, after the help given by that city in the war against Frederick Barbarossa in the 12th century. However, the first mention of the church dates from 1254 when the Augustinians built a Gothic style edifice with a nave and two aisles re-using pre-existing constructions. The structure was heavily modified in the Baroque style during the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Milan, Italy

I Gesuiti Church

The church of Santa Maria Assunta, known as I Gesuiti was built in 1715-1728 by Jesuits. Saint Ignatius of Loyola visited the city of Venice for the first time in 1523 to embark on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He returned to I Gesuiti in 1535 with a group of friends, who already called themselves the Society of Jesus (members of which are referred to as Jesuits - Gesuiti in Italian), and here they were ordained as priests. ...
Founded: 1715-1728 | Location: Venice, Italy

Shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei

Bartolo Longo started restoring a The Pontifical Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary church in disrepair in October 1873. In 1875, Longo obtained a painting of Our Lady of the Rosary from a convent in Naples and raised funds to restore the image so as to locate it in the church. Miracles began to be reported and pilgrims began flocking in droves to the church. Three hundred people of the area pledged a penny a m ...
Founded: 1891 | Location: Pompei, Italy

Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore

Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore was established in the 5th century. Originally dedicated to both Saint Zechariah and Saint Stephen, it was later dedicated to Saint Stephen only. Throughout its history, has undergone several reconstructions, expansion and restoration. The original church building was built around the year 417 on the initiative of the future bishop Martinianus. It was destroyed by fire in 1070 and i ...
Founded: 1075 | Location: Milan, Italy

San Giovanni del Toro

Consecrated in the 11th century, the San Giovanni del Toro church was restored in 1715 after damage caused by an earthquake, and it was restored again in the 1990s. The church is named for John the Apostle and for 'Il Toro', the former name of the old aristocratic quarter in which it was built. It is especially noted for its pulpit, dating from around the 13th century. The pulpit is notable for its mosaics, ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Ravello, Italy

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta

Aquileia, one of the largest and wealthiest cities of the Early Roman Empire, was destroyed by Attila in the mid-5th century. The patriarchal basilica, an outstanding building with an exceptional mosaic pavement, played a key role in the evangelization of a large region of central Europe. The architectural development of the Basilica of Aquileia, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the saints Hermagora and Fortunatus, start ...
Founded: c. 313 AD | Location: Aquileia, Italy

Torcello Cathedral

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is a basilica church on the island of Torcello. It is a notable example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture, one of the most ancient religious edifices in the Veneto, and containing the earliest mosaics in the area of Venice. According to an ancient inscription, it was founded by the exarch Isaac of Ravenna in 639, when Torcello was still a rival to the young nearby settlement at Venic ...
Founded: 639 AD | Location: Venice, Italy

San Giacomo Monastery

Certosa di San Giacomo is a Carthusian monastery on the island of Capri. Count Giacomo Arcucci, a secretary to Joan I of Naples, established the charterhouse in 1371. He later became a monk himself in 1386. In 1553 the monastery was restored and fortified and a tower was erected which collapsed in the 18th century. There was often conflict between the islanders and the monks, who owned land as well as grazing and h ...
Founded: 1371 | Location: Capri, Italy

Santa Maria della Passione

Santa Maria della Passione was initially built in 1496 for the Order of Canons Lateran. The church plan as we see today was based on initial designs of Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, but realized as a centralized greek cross design by Giovanni Battagio. The architect Cristoforo Lombardo designed the large dome to replace the prior crumbling structure. By the late 16th century, under the design of Martino Bassi, the nave ...
Founded: 1496 | Location: Milan, Italy

Cividale del Friuli Cathedral

The Cathedral (Duomo) of Cividale del Friuli was built in the 15th century over a pre-existing construction built in the 8th century. It is a Venetian Gothic building, finished in the 16th century by architect Pietro Lombardo, featuring interventions from the 18th century also. The interior houses an altar dedicated to the Madonna, in the right aisle, and the altarpiece of patriarch Pellegrino II (1195−1204), a silver r ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Cividale del Friuli, Italy

Scrovegni Chapel

The Scrovegni Chapel contains a fresco cycle by Giotto, completed about 1305 and considered to be an important masterpiece of Italian and European art. The fresco cycle details the life of the Virgin Mary and has been acknowledged by many to be one of the most important fresco cycles in the world. The church was dedicated to Santa Maria della Carità at the Feast of the Annunciation, 1303, and consecrated in 1305. D ...
Founded: 1303-1305 | Location: Padua, Italy

Church of the Hermits

The Church of the Eremitani, or Church of the Hermits, is an Augustinian church of the 13th century. It was built in 1276 and dedicated to the saints Philip and James; it is however best known as degli Eremitani from the annexed old monastery, which now houses the municipal art gallery. The chapel of SS. James and Christopher (Ovetari Chapel), formerly illustrated by Mantegna"s frescoes, was largely destroyed by the ...
Founded: 1276 | Location: Padua, Italy

Treviso Cathedral

Treviso Cathedral originates from the 6th century and stands in an area where during the Ancient Roman period there were a temple, a theatre and possibly some baths. In the 11th-12th centuries the church was remodelled in Romanesque style. In 1768 it was demolished and rebuilt in Neoclassical style, only the crypt remaining from the previous edifice. The current façade dates from 1836. Treviso Cathedral was involved in t ...
Founded: 1768 | Location: Treviso, Italy

Certosa di Pavia

The Certosa di Pavia is a monastery complex built in 1396-1495. It was once located on the border of a large hunting park belonging to the Visconti family of Milan, of which today only scattered parts remain. It is one of the largest monasteries in Italy. Certosa is the Italian name for a house of the cloistered monastic order of Carthusians founded by St. Bruno in 1044 at Grande Chartreuse. Though the Carthu ...
Founded: 1396-1495 | Location: Certosa di Pavia, Italy

San Nazaro in Brolo

San Nazaro in Brolo church was built by St. Ambrose starting from 382 on the road that connected Milan (then Mediolanum) to Rome. It was originally dedicated to the Apostles, and thus known as Basilica Apostolorum. As explained by an inscription in the church written by Ambrose himself, the church"s plan was on the Greek Cross with apses on the arms, a feature present only in the Church of the Holy Apostles i ...
Founded: 382 AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Sant'Eufemia Church

The church of Sant"Eufemia is an ancient church in Verona. A church at the site was likely present by the 11th or 12th centuries, although the main layout we see today was completed only in the 14th century. In the interior, altarpieces were completed by Brusasorci and Giovanni Domenico Cignaroli. In the 14th century Spolverini chapel, there is a canvas and frescos by Giovanni Francesco Caroto. The gothic belltower c ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Verona, Italy

Monza Cathedral

Monza Cathedral (Duomo di Monza) is not in fact a cathedral, as Monza has always been part of the Diocese of Milan, but is in the charge of an archpriest who has the right to certain episcopal vestments including the mitre and the ring. The basilica, which would in essence have been complete by 603, is believed to have been commissioned towards the end of the sixth century by the Lombard Queen of Italy, Theode ...
Founded: 1300 | Location: Monza, Italy

Pavia Cathedral

Pavia Cathedral is the largest in the city and seat of the Diocese of Pavia. The construction was begun in the 15th century on the site of two pre-existing Romanesque, 'twin' cathedrals (Santo Stefano and Santa Maria del Popolo). The marble facing of the exterior was never completed. Until recently, next to the cathedral stood the Civic Tower (Torre Civica), known in 1330 and enlarged in 1583. It collapsed o ...
Founded: 1488 | Location: Pavia, 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.