UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy

Villa La Rotonda

Villa La Rotonda is a Renaissance villa just outside Vicenza, designed by Andrea Palladio. Along with other works by Palladio, the building is conserved as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto'. In 1565 a priest, Paolo Almerico, on his retirement from the Vatican, decided to return to his home town of Vicenza and build a country house. Building began in ...
Founded: 1567 | Location: Vicenza, Italy

Sabbioneta

Sabbioneta is a town and comune in the province of Mantua. Sabbioneta was founded by Vespasiano I Gonzaga in the late 16th century along the ancient Roman Via Vitelliana, on a sandy bank of the Po; he was its first duke, using it as a personal fortress and residence. In 2008, Sabbioneta was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as a recognition of its perfect example of practical application of Renaissance  ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Sabbioneta, Italy

Capitolium of Brixia

The Capitolium of Brixia was the main temple in the center of the Roman town of Brixia (Brescia). It is represented at present by fragmentary ruins, but is part of an archeological site, including a Roman amphitheatre and museum in central Brescia. The temple was built in 73 AD during the rule of emperor Vespasian. The prominent elevated location and the three identifiable cellae, each with their own polychrome marbl ...
Founded: 73 AD | Location: Brescia, Italy

Cerveteri Etruscan Necropolis

Cerveteri town famous for the site of the ancient Etruscan city which was one of the most important Etruscan cities with an area more than 15 times larger than today"s town. It was one of the city-states of the Etruscan League and at its height, around 600 BC, its population was perhaps around 25,000 - 40,000 people. The most famous attraction of Cerveteri is the Necropoli della Banditaccia, which has been declare ...
Founded: 800 BC | Location: Cerveteri, Italy

Crespi d'Adda

Crespi d'Adda is a historic settlement and an outstanding example of the 19th and early 20th-century 'company towns' built in Europe and North America by enlightened industrialists to meet the workers' needs. The site is still intact and is partly used for industrial purposes, although changing economic and social conditions now threaten its survival. Since 1995 it has been on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. ...
Founded: 1869 | Location: Capriate San Gervasio, Italy

Tarquinia Etruscan Necropolis

Tarquinia is known chiefly for its outstanding and unique ancient Etruscan tombs in the widespread necropoli or cemeteries which it overlies. Tarquinia has been awarded as UNESCO World Heritage status with near Cerveteri. The ancient burial grounds (necropoli), dating from the Iron Age (9th century BC, or Villanovan period) to Roman times, were on the adjacent promontories including that of today"s Tarquinia. It wa ...
Founded: 800 BC | Location: Tarquinia, Italy

Aquileia Roman Ruins

Today, Aquileia is a town smaller than the colony first founded by Rome. Over the centuries, sieges, earthquakes, floods, and pillaging of the ancient buildings for materials means that no edifices of the Roman period remain above ground. The site of Aquileia, believed to be the largest Roman city yet to be excavated, is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Excavations, however, have revealed some of the layout ...
Founded: 181 BC | Location: Aquileia, Italy

Villa Barbaro

Villa Barbaro, also known as the Villa di Maser, was designed and built by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio, with frescos by Paolo Veronese and sculptures by Alessandro Vittoria for Daniele Barbaro. The villa was probably built between 1558 and 1570. After the Barbaro family died out, the villa passed through the female line into the ownership of the Trevisan and then the Basadonna families, followed by the Manin. L ...
Founded: 1558-1570 | Location: Maser, Italy

Villa Foscari

Villa Foscari is designed by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio. It is also known as La Malcontenta, a nickname which it received when the spouse of one of the Foscaris was locked up in the house because she allegedly didn"t live up to her conjugal duty. The villa was commissioned by the brothers Nicolo and Luigi Foscari, members of a patrician Venetian family that produced Francesco Foscari, one of Venice"s ...
Founded: 1558-1560 | Location: Mira, Italy

Villa Emo

Villa Emo was designed by Andrea Palladio in 1559 for the Emo family of Venice and remained in the hands of the Emo family until it was sold in 2004. The building was the culmination of a long-lasting project of the patrician Emo family of the Republic of Venice to develop its estates at Fanzolo.  Since 1996, it has been conserved as part of the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the V ...
Founded: 1559 | Location: Fanzolo, Italy

Villa Badoer

Villa Badoer was designed in 1556 by Andrea Palladio for the Venetian noble Francesco Badoer, and built between 1557 and 1563, on the site of a medieval castle which guarded a bridge across a navigable canal. This was the first time Palladio used his fully developed temple pediment in the facade of a villa. Villa Badoer has been part since 1996 of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Vil ...
Founded: 1556-1563 | Location: Fratta Polesine, Italy

Villa Pisani

Villa Pisani was designed by Andrea Palladio about 1552, for Cardinal Francesco Pisani. Pisani was also a patron of the painters Paolo Veronese and Giambattista Maganza and the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria, who provided sculptures of the Four Seasons for the villa, which is in fact provided with fireplaces to dispel winter chill. Construction of the villa was under way by 1553, and it was completed in 1555. The central b ...
Founded: 1553-1555 | Location: Montagnana, Italy

Villa Godi

Villa Godi was one of the first projects by Andrea Palladio. The work was commissioned by the brothers Girolamo, Pietro and Marcantonio Godi, started in 1537 and concluded in 1542, with later modifications to the rear entry and gardens. The villa has been designated by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto'. The villa and extensive gardens are open to ...
Founded: 1537-1542 | Location: Lugo di Vicenza, Italy

Val Camonica Rock Drawings

The stone carvings of Val Camonica (Camonica Valley) constitute the largest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs in the world. The collection was recognized by Unesco in 1979 and was Italy"s first recognized World Heritage Site. Unesco has formally recognized more than 140,000 figures and symbols, but new discoveries have increased the number of catalogued incisions to between 200,000 and 300,000. The petrog ...
Founded: 7000 BCE | Location: Capo di Ponte, Italy

Castelseprio

Castelseprio or Castel Seprio was the site of a Roman fort in antiquity, and a significant Lombard town in the early Middle Ages, before being destroyed and abandoned in 1287. It is today preserved as an archaeological park. Castelseprio originated as a Roman fort that commanded an important crossroad. During the early Middle Ages, the Lombards occupied the Roman fort, turning it into a fortified citadel or smal ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Castelseprio, Italy

Villa Caldogno

Villa Caldogno is attributed to Andrea Palladio. It was built for the aristocratic Caldogno family on their estate in the village of Caldogno near Vicenza. A Latin inscription on the facade dates the completion of the building to 1570 when it belonged to Angelo Caldogno. However, Angelo"s father, Losco Caldogno, appears to have started to build in the 1540s, probably incorporating walls from a pre-existing building. ...
Founded: 1570 | Location: Caldogno, Italy

Sacro Monte di Ossuccio

The Sacro Monte di Ossuccio is one of the nine sacri monti ('Sacred Mountains' of Piedmont and Lombardy, series of nine calvaries or groups of chapels and other architectural features ) in the Italian regions of Lombardy and Piedmont, in northern Italy, which were inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2003. The devotional complex is located on a prealpine crag some 200 metres above the wester ...
Founded: 1635-1710 | Location: Ossuccio, Italy

Villa Saraceno

Villa Saraceno has been dated to the 1540s, which makes it one of Andrea Palladio"s earlier works. In 1570 the building was illustrated in an imagined state in its architect"s influential publication 'Four Books of Architecture'.  Villa Saraceno is one of Palladio"s simpler creations. Like most of Palladio"s villas it combines living space for its upper-class owners with space for uses rela ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Agugliaro, Italy

Torba Abbey

Torba Abbey is a former Benedictine nunnery in the Castelseprio Archaeological Park. This in turn forms part of the serial site 'Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568–774 A.D.)', comprising seven sites of especial importance for Lombard arts in architecture, pictures and sculpture, entered on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 2011. History The first nucleus of the Castelseprio complex, of ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Castelseprio, Italy

Villa Angarano

The Villa Angarano was originally conceived by Andrea Palladio who published a plan in his book I Quattro Libri dell"Architettura. Work was started on the wings of Palladio"s design in the 1540s or 1540s . A decision appears to have been reached to leave a pre-existing house in the middle of the site. The proposed Palladian villa was never built: Palladio"s patron may have been obliged to halt the project f ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Bassano del Grappa, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Goseck Circle

The Goseck circle is a Neolithic circle structure. It may be the oldest and best known of the Circular Enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. It also may be one of the oldest Solar observatories in the world. It consists of a set of concentric ditches 75 metres across and two palisade rings containing gates in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the solstice days.

Its construction is dated to c. 4900 BC, and it seems to have remained in use until 4600 BC. This corresponds to the transitional phase between the Neolithic Linear Pottery and Stroke-ornamented ware cultures. It is one of a larger group of so-called Circular Enclosures in the Elbe and Danube region, most of which show similar alignments.

Excavators also found the remains of what may have been ritual fires, animal and human bones, and a headless skeleton near the southeastern gate, that could be interpreted as traces of human sacrifice or specific burial ritual. There is no sign of fire or of other destruction, so why the site was abandoned is unknown. Later villagers built a defensive moat following the ditches of the old enclosure.

The Goseck ring is one of the best preserved and extensively investigated of the many similar structures built at around the same time. Traces of the original configuration reveal that the Goseck ring consisted of four concentric circles, a mound, a ditch, and two wooden palisades. The palisades had three sets of gates facing southeast, southwest, and north. At the winter solstice, observers at the center would have seen the sun rise and set through the southeast and southwest gates.

Archaeologists generally agree that Goseck circle was used for observation of the course of the Sun in the course of the solar year. Together with calendar calculations, it allowed coordinating an easily judged lunar calendar with the more demanding measurements of a solar calendar.