Cattolica di Stilo

Stilo, Italy

The Cattolica was built in the 9th century, when Calabria was part of the Byzantine Empire. The name derives from the Greek word katholiki, which referred to the churches provided with a baptistery. It is one of the most important examples of Byzantine architecture, together with the church of San Marco in Rossano Calabro.

The Cattolica follow a plan with 'inscribed cross', typical of the middle Byzantine age. The interior is divided by four columns into five similar spaces. The square central space and the angled ones are covered by domes. The angled ones have tambours with the same diameter, while the central dome is slightly taller and larger.

The western sides lies on free rocks, while the southern area, ending with three apses, stands on three stone bases. The construction is in bricks.

The interior was once entirely covered with frescoes. The left apse has a bell built in 1577, when the church was converted to the Latin rite. The interior has also several inscriptions in Arabic, which have led scholars to suspect it could have been also used as a Muslim oratory.



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Via Cattolica 7, Stilo, Italy
See all sites in Stilo


Founded: 9th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nelson Perez (3 months ago)
Beautiful normando church! Not a lot of information. There is a fee to enter and you have to pay it online but the gate staff was kind, he did all the job!
Wietse Dol (6 months ago)
Italian history. You can not skip it.
M Dick (13 months ago)
Wow I enjoyed my visit to this enchanting little place in Stilo. The church sits within the most amazing scenery and is well worth a visit. There is an entry fee but it wasn't much (can't remember the exact price). I managed to take some amazing photo's. You have to drive into Stilo to get to the church up the hill. But it is well signposted and easy to find also with satellite navigation. There is a cafe and gift shop in the grounds that sell the most amazing little keepsakes to take home and not expensive. There is free car parking in the grounds too. I found the staff very helpful and polite and even helped to take some photos for me. I would recommend a visit to this beautiful little hidden gem in Italy you will not be disappointed.
Francesca Berlen (16 months ago)
The view from here is nice. Unless you can get here easily, I wouldn't rate it. The church is tiny and inside there are a couple of mosaics to see.
Andrea Guatteri (2 years ago)
The village is wonderful, but the cattolica church was already closed at 18. Please stay open longer than this. I'll be back for sure.
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Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.