UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy

Teatro Olimpico

The Teatro Olimpico ('Olympic Theatre') was constructed in 1580-1585. The theatre was the final design by the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio and was not completed until after his death. The trompe-l"œil onstage scenery, designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, to give the appearance of long streets receding to a distant horizon, was installed in 1585 for the very first performance held in the theatre, ...
Founded: 1580-1585 | Location: Vicenza, Italy

Padua Botanical Garden

The Orto Botanico di Padova is a botanical garden in Padua, founded in 1545 by the Venetian Republic. It is the world's oldest academic botanical garden that is still in its original location. The garden, affiliated with the University of Padua, currently covers roughly 22,000 square meters, and is known for its special collections and historical design. A circular wall enclosure was built to protect the garden from the ...
Founded: 1545 | Location: Padua, 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

Villa Poppaea

The Villa Poppaea is an ancient Roman seaside villa situated in the ancient Roman town of Oplontis (the modern Torre Annunziata). Evidence suggests that it was owned by the Emperor Nero, and it is believed to have been used by his second wife, Poppaea Sabina, as her main residence when she was not in Rome. Like many of the other houses in the area, the villa shows signs of remodeling, probably to repair damage fro ...
Founded: 100-0 BCE | Location: Torre Annunziata, Italy

Late Baroque Town of Modica

Modica is a city and comune of 54.456 inhabitants situated in the Hyblaean Mountains. Rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1693, its architecture has been recognised as providing outstanding testimony to the exuberant genius and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe and, along with other towns in the Val di Noto, is part of UNESCO Heritage Sites in Italy. odica consists of two urban centres, 'Mo ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Modica, Italy

Late Baroque Town of Caltagirone

The city"s name derives from the Arabic 'qal"at-al-jarar' ('Castle of jars') – a name that attests to the antiquity of the pottery works which are still thriving. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as shown by the presence of two necropoleis dating from the second millennium BCE and by numerous other archaeological finds. It was later inhabited by the Sicels pre-Roman pop ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Caltagirone, Italy

Castel del Monte

Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II. As a ...
Founded: 1240 | Location: Andria, Italy

Lombard Temple

The small church of Oratorio di Santa Maria in Valle (also known as Lombard Temple), next to the Natisone river, is a notable example of High Middle Ages art sometimes attributed to the 8th century, but probably later. Included in the old Lombard quarter, it was probably used as Palatine Chapel by the Lombard dukes and king"s functionaries. The fine decorations, statues and stuccoes (11th or 12th century) housed in t ...
Founded: 8th century | Location: Cividale del Friuli, Italy

Valley of the Temples

The Sicilian town of Agrigento was an important Greek colony in the 6th century BC and today it has some of the best preserved Greek remains outside of Greece itself. The Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) contains a number of ruined temples in a spectacular countryside setting. Temple of Concordia Due to its good state of preservation, the Temple of Concordia is ranked amongst the most notable edifices of the Gre ...
Founded: 500 BCE | Location: Provincia di Agrigento, Italy

Villa dei Misteri

The Villa of the Mysteries (Villa dei Misteri) is a well-preserved suburban Roman villa on the outskirts of Pompeii, southern Italy, famous for the series of frescos in one room, which are usually thought to show the initiation of a young woman into a Greco-Roman mystery cult. These are now probably the best known of the relatively rare survivals of Ancient Roman painting. Like the rest of the Roman city of Pomp ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Pompei, Italy

Late Baroque Town of Scicli

Scicli was founded by the Sicels (whence probably the name) around 300 BCE. In 864 CE, Scicli was conquered by the Arabs, as part of the Muslim conquest of Sicily. Under their rule it flourished as an agricultural and trade center. In 1091, it was conquered from the Arabs by the Normans, under Roger I of Hauteville, after a fierce battle. Following the various dynasties ruling the Kingdom of Sicily, it was an Aragonese-S ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Scicli, Italy

San Salvatore Monastery

San Salvatore (or Santa Giulia) is a former monastery in Brescia, now turned into a museum. The monastic complex is famous for the diversity of its architecture which include Roman remains and significant pre-Romanesque, Romanesque and Renaissance buildings. In 2011, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a group of seven inscribed as Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568-774 A.D.). The monastery i ...
Founded: 753 AD | Location: Brescia, Italy

Sacro Monte di Varese

The Sacro Monte di Varese (literally ‘Sacred Mount of Varese’) is one of the nine sacri monti in the Italian regions of Lombardy and Piedmont which were inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. It has an altitude of 807 metres above sea-level. The Sacro Monte of Varese is located a few kilometers from the city and nestled in the regional park Campo dei Fiori. It consists of the Holy Road an ...
Founded: 1604 | Location: Varese, 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 1567. Nei ...
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

Castello della Zisa

The Zisa is a castle in the western part of Palermo. It is included in the UNESCO Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale World Heritage Site. The construction was begun in the 12th century by Arabian craftsmen for king William I of Sicily , and completed by his son William II. The edifice had been conceived as summer residence for the Norman kings, as a part of the large hunting resort kno ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Palermo, 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

Late Baroque Town of Palazzolo Acreide

The area around Palazzolo Acreide has been inhabited since ancient times. The old city was probably destroyed by the Arabs, in the first half of the 9th century. The new city was built around a Norman castle, which no longer exists. An earthquake in 1693 destroyed almost the entire city, which was slowly rebuilt in the following centuries. Thanks to the many fascinating buildings in Baroque style, Palazzolo Acreide ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Palazzolo Acreide, 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

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.