The Basilique de St-Martin in Tours is a neo-Byzantine basilica on the site of previous churches built in honor of St. Martin, bishop of Tours in the 4th century. Next to it are two Romanesque towers and a Renaissance cloister surviving from the earlier basilica.
St. Martin died in 397 at the age of about 81 in Candes, and his body was brought to Tours. Martin's remains were enclosed in a stone sarcophagus, above which his successors, St. Britius and St. Perpetuus, built first a simple chapel, and later a basilica (466-72). St. Euphronius, Bishop of Autun and a friend of St. Perpetuus, sent a sculptured tablet of marble to cover the tomb. This Early Christian basilica burned down along with many other churches in 988.
A larger Basilica of St. Martin was constructed in 1014, which burned down in 1230. This was rebuilt as an even larger 13th-century Romanesque basilica, which became the center of great national pilgrimages and a stop on the way toSantiago. Martin's cult was very popular throughout the Middle Ages and a multitude of churches and chapels have been dedicated to him.
In 1562, Huguenots (French Calvinists) sacked the Basilica of St. Martin from top to bottom, especially destroying the tomb and relics of Martin. The church was restored by its canons, but then was completely demolished in 1793 during the Revolution. All the remained of the basilica was the two towers which are still standing. To ensure the basilica could not be rebuilt, the atheistic municipality caused two streets to be opened up on its site.
In December 1860, excavations located the site of St. Martin's tomb, of which some fragments were discovered. A new basilica to house these relics was constructed by Mgr Meignan, Archbishop of Tours, from 1886-1924. Martin's tomb is still a place of pilgrimage for the faithful.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.