The construction of the Duomo di Milano initiated in 1386 on the site of the ancient basilicas of Santa Tecla and Santa Maria Maggiore, which were then demolished at a later date. Dedicated to Maria Nascente, the cathedral was commissioned by Gian Galeazzo Visconti and had a dual purpose: the plan was to replace the sites of worship in the heart of Milan with an imposing edifice and it was also intended to celebrate the Visconti Signoria and its ambitious expansion policy.
It is the largest and most complex Gothic building in Italy, made of pink-veined white marble from the Candoglia quarries, in the Val d'Ossola. It is 157 metres in length and covers an area of 11,700 m2. The highest spire measures 108.5 and, in October 1774, the golden 4,16 metre-high statue of the Madonna by the sculptor Giuseppe Perego was placed on its pinnacle.
The construction works were prolonged over five centuries and, during this extensive period, local and European architects, sculptors, artists and workers all proceeded in turn to work in the Fabbrica del Duomo. The result of all their labour is a unique style of architecture, a fusion of European Gothic style and Lombard tradition.
Visiting this enchanting abbey, established one thousand years ago, you will experience the very same atmosphere of knights, crusades and religious mysteries. Surrounded by the lush forests of the mount Canto, this church kept its charming and austere Romanesque architecture, decorated by the fragments of ancient frescoes, which used to cover its walls
Como, the Duomo (Cathedral) seen from the eastern side of the piazza, where in only a single block, the Duomo, the Broletto and the city tower are located. Como's Duomo is the last of the Gothic cathedrals built in Lombardy: it was begun in 1396, ten years after the foundation of Milan 's Duomo.
The San Gemolo Abbey in Ganna is an architectural complex formed by the church (consecrated in 1160), the bell tower, the cloister and the monks' homes. The abbey is located in the municipality of Valganna and is a place of worship dedicated to the memory of San Gemolo. According to the legend, the Saint walked to the abbey to be buried, bringing his own head in the hand.
The cloister hosts the Museum of the Abbey with heterogeneous material, from prehistoric finds to nineteenth-century laces and embroideries.
Clinging to a sheer rock overhanging one of the deepest parts of Lake Maggiore, the hermitage is a monastery made up of three buildings dating back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It offers a wonderful blend of art and history set against one of the most charming natural canvases on Lake Maggiore, in which the rock appears to almost form a balcony leaning out towards the Borromean Islands. The hermitage can be easily accessed via a short walk from the lake or a picturesque staircase with 268 steps from a large square above, and a lift has recently been installed.
The church of Sant’Evasio was founded in the first half of the 8th century, at the time of the Lombard King Liutprand, who wished to honour the saint by erecting a great basilica over the little church of San Lorenzo, built by Evasius himself.
A Romanesque basilica rebuilt after the earthquake in 1117 round a nucleus dating from the 4th or 5th century.Note on the outside the façade with the large rose window called the “Wheel of Fortune”, the marble bas-reliefs on either side of the porch, the famous bronze doors, the bell-tower and the Abbey Tower
The archaeological dig carried out in several batches between 1976 and 1999, allowed for the building’s constructive stages to be rediscovered. The digs involved an area which used to be part of a large extra-urban necropolis, where, at the beginning of the 5th century, there was an early-Christian complex which also included the cruciform church of S. Lorenzo. At the centre of the south nave, the basement of a funeral building was found, it may be dated to some time between the 4th and 5th centuries A.D.; the primitive church, which was erected to the north of this mausoleum, consisted of a simple apsidal hall surrounded by a portico destined for use as privileged burial grounds.
In the 9th century, the church was completely rebuilt and enlarged, moving the general axis of the building southwards, the eastern extremity has three apses, while the facade was rebuilt to the west of the early-Christian one. In the year 989, a bell tower was added to the facade, the remains of which are still visible up to a height of approximately 15 m.
The archeological dig of the choir of the church of S. Orso allowed for a square-shaped floor mosaic to be brought back to the surface, it was unknown and not mentioned by the sources, it was made with black and white tiles with some inserts of light brown coloured tiles. A series of six circles inscribed in the square, acts as a frame for the central decorations. In the central medallion there is an elegant representation of Samson killing the lion.
The World Heritage Committee included on its list the Basilica and other sites important to the Franciscan Order, due to the fact that they represent an amalgamation of masterpieces stemming from creative human genius
The construction of the apse in the Cathedral of Vicenza had begun in 1482 to the design of Lorenzo da Bologna, but in 1531 it was still unfinished. Early, temporary, roofing was erected in 1540, as a result of the possibility that Vicenza might host the Church Council which in the end was held at Trent.
As the abbey of Santa Giustina, to which was added in the fifteenth century, the Praglia Abbey has enjoyed various events.
Founded in the eleventh century, it was built in fief by Emperor Frederick II in the thirteenth century. Subsequently independent, then in, and finally added to Santa Giustina until 1810 when Napoleon suppressed.
Cattedrale Matropolitana di San Pietro is the cathedral of Bologna, entitled “Metropolitana” in 1582 by Pope Gregorio XIII, who also turned the diocese of Bologna into an archdiocese. In the past, there was a baptistery in front of the façade and the origins of the building may be traced back to the beginning of the Christian era (even though it is said that the church already existed during the 10th century).
The Baptistery of San Giovanni was founded on 15 August 1152. It is here that the Sacrament of Baptism is administered and the Christian embarks upon the path of Faith. The reason that such a fascinating and enigmatic building was constructed was certainly the wish to endow the cathedral with a worthy adjunct: a Baptistery that, in terms of position, size, materials and style, would be in harmony with the majestic building that already stood opposite.
Pisa Cathedral is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in the Piazza dei Miracoli.
Founded in 1064 and consecrated with great pomp on September 26th 1118, the Cathedral was built in two stages, one by architect Buscheto, who created the original layout with the basilican body with four aisles and one nave, a transept with one nave and two aisles, and the dome on the cross vault, and one by Rainaldo, who extended the building and the façade.
The outer facing of the Cathedral is decorated in alternating black and white shades in stripes of Arab influence and a massive use of reused materials from Roman monuments that emphasised the greatness of the city of Pisa, “altera Roma”. Inside, the nave is edged by two rows of monolithic columns made of granite from the Isle of Elba, flanked by four aisles separated by smaller colonnades with large womenís galleries on top, covered by cross vaults and looking out onto the nave through some double-lancet and four-lancet windows. The nave is covered by a wooden coffered ceiling that in the XVII century replaced the original exposed trusses.
The Knights’ Square or Piazza dei Cavalieri, lined with splendidly decorated buildings, has for centuries been the political heart of Pisa and is the second most important square after The Square of Miracles. A visit to the Renaissance church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri will give you a real insight in the colourful maritime history of the city.
The Knights’ Square – what can you see there? - Palazzo dei Cavalieri was also known as “della Carovana” (Palace of the Convoy). This name derives from the three-year training period undertaken by the initiates of the Order, called “la Carovana”. Vasari embellished it with exquisite sgrafitti, that represent allegorical figures and signs of the zodiac, and the busts of the Grandukes of Tuscany. In front of it stands the huge statue of a victorious Cosimo I proudly ‘squashing’ the head of a dolphin, as a symbol of his naval victories. Today the palace hosts the Normale di Pisa University.
The Church of the Knights of the Holy and Military Order of St. Stephen was also designed by Vasari (1565–1569). It contains Ottoman and Saracen naval banners captured by the Knights of St. Stephen. The ceiling shows off paintings with historical episodes involving the order, like the “Return of the Fleet” from the Battle of Lepanto.
The exuberant Santa Maria della Spina Church in Pisa, Italy, is a beautiful work of Gothic fantasy rendered in miniature, that sits on the banks of the Lungarno Gambacorti.
The eye-catching Santa Maria della Spina was originally a simple oratory for seamen, who would come here to pray for a safe return. The church was originally closer to the river bank.
The church needed to reflect the value of the relic that it contained, so the best artists of the time went to work on it. These included Lupo di Francesco, Andrea Pisano with his sons Nino and Tommaso, and Giovanni di Balduccio. The “Madonna and the child with two angels” in the tabernacle on the façade is attributed to Giovanni Pisano, an important master who also worked at the Cathedral. The sumptuous decorations on the right side and in the tabernacles were made in the workshops of the Giovanni Pisano school.
In contrast with the outside, the interior is quite ostentatious. It’s essentially one open space, at one end of which stands the “Madonna of the Rose” by Andrea and Nino Pisano, one of the most notable achievements of Gothic sculpture.
The Grossmünster church is a landmark of Zurich. According to legend, Charlemagne discovered the graves of the city’s patron saints Felix and Regula and had a church built as a monastery on the spot.
In the first half of the 16th century, the Grossmünster church was the starting point of the Swiss-German Reformation led by Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger. The theological college then annexed to the monastery spawned what is now the University of Zürich.
The stained glass windows by Sigmar Polke, the Romanesque crypt, choir windows by Augusto Giacometti, bronze doors by Otto Münch and the cloister Reformation Museum are just some of the highlights see here.
Known to Zurchers as the Fraumunster, the Minster of Our Lady church is popular to visit thanks to its graceful spire (which tops Zurich's skyline) and its Marc Chagall stained-glass windows. The church was founded in the ninth century by Emperor Ludwig, Charlemagne's grandson, though the property's iconic spire wasn't added until 1732. And in 1970, Chagall's famous stained-glass windows were added.
Some previous visitors said the church's exterior isn't much to look at. However, most agree the interior's stained-glass windows are well worth a visit. In addition to the newer Chagall windows, some featuring designs by Augusto Giacometti, who is famously linked to the stained-glass windows at the Great Minster, are also located inside.
As you exit the main highway at Cascina on the east to west road called the FI-PI-LI and start to drive towards the Apuane Alps, you slowly shake off the busy industrial sensations and start to ease yourself into the quiet and tranquility that first drew the Carthusian monks to this area.
Around the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, Bregenz was still a pronounced baroque city. Today, numerous baroque echoes can still be found in the cityscape. It is primarily church buildings on which the build and design-happy construction style of the 17th and 18th centuries made its mark.
Built between 1922 and 1930, the Basilique de la Visitation is the chapel at the Visitation monastery and the place housing the tombs of Francois de Sales (1567-1622) and Jeanne de Chantal (1572-1641), co-founders of the religious order.
“When I was small, I thought the Château and the Collégiale were the same thing. They were so close, they seemed to be interlinked. Was it a church or a château? Most of all, it was the wonderful playground of my childhood! The years passed but the two emblematic monuments remain inseparable.
Saint Mark’s Square is surely a place that can’t be missed, an exhibition of rare and unique beauty appear on a 360° view in front of the visitors, the Saint Mark’s Church, the bell tower, the “procuratie” and the Napoleonic wing, the clock tower and the two blacks.
The Church, a Romanic Byzantine style was born initially as a mausoleum of the Patron Saint, it has 5 domes, marbles and mosaics to embellish the façade, inside, decorations and wall of golden leaf mosaics represents tales of the Patron Saint.
The bell tower is the highest point of the city, 98.6 meters tall, from the top there is a unique and breathtaking view of the isle, it was originally built as a watchtower and a lighthouse in the IX century.
Finally the clock tower, also a renaissance style palace, its arcade allow to enter into the square from the “Mercerie” so called because during the Republic there where many shops selling precious merchandise coming from distant ports. Today the Mercerie are site for various commercial activities, mostly murano glass shops and most modern cloth and gift shops.
If you are in Venice you cannot miss the opportunity to visit St Mark’s Church, the famous San Marco Basilica. It is one of the most valuable treasures of history, art and faith in the world, located in St Mark's Square, the so-called ‘drawing room of Europe’.
When you visit St Mark’s Cathedral you cannot avoid gazing at the vast amount of decorations, mosaics, architectonic structures, precious objects and sacred and allegorical images that adorn the church inside and outside. To face all this in the best way before delving into the details, it is important to let oneself be swept away by this abundance, which changes time after time depending on the lighting, one’s stance and many other details that all together turn San Marco Basilica into a constantly new and deep experience to live in Italy.
A visit of St Mark’s Basilica means entering into an intricate world imbued with religion, art and sacred images that narrate in detail the history of Venice: the beauty of this place is nonetheless blindingly evident and one does not need to decipher it in order to appreciate it.
The Medici Chapels form part of the monumental complex of San Lorenzo. The church of San Lorenzo was the official church of the Medici from their period as private residents in their palace in Via Larga (now via Cavour), becoming their mausoleum up to the time of the extinction of the line.
Florence's cathedral stands tall over the city with its magnificent Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, with the baptistery right across. The cathedral named in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore is a vast Gothic structure built on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata, the remains of which can be seen in the crypt.
The exterior is covered in a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble. The interior, by contrast, is pretty stark and plain but quite enjoyable on warm summer days since the temperature inside tends to be cooler.
Please note the clock above the entrance on the inside of the church. It was designed in 1443 by Paolo Uccello in accordance with the ora italica, where the 24th hour of the day ended at sunset... and it still works!
Inspired by the Muscovite style, it has a very richly decorated interior with many icons, murals and carved woodwork as well as an iconostasis of embossed metal. The primary vocation of this site being a place of worship, certain rules must be respected.
The Court Church is also known by locals as “Schwarzmander Church” thanks to the 28 life-size bronze figures that stand guard, watching over the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I. Strange but true: eight of the “Black Men” (Schwarzmander) are actually women and the Emperor’s tomb is empty. But this beautifully crafted masterpiece is still a work of art and wonderful to behold.
The Emperor’s tomb takes pride of place in the church. However, the building is also home to legendary local heroes, such as freedom fighter Andreas Hofer. In 1809, Andreas Hofer led thousands of brave Tyroleans against the superior force of Napoleonic troops on Bergisel. He was executed for this in Mantua but is still revered as a hero in Innsbruck. The Court Church is also the final resting place of his fellow soldiers Josef Speckbacher, Joachim Haspinger and Kajetan Sweth.
The Silver Chapel is a highlight that shouldn’t be missed on a visit to the Court Church. Two additional famous people from Innsbruck are buried here: Archduke Ferdinand II and his wife Philippine Welser. She was a local superstar during her lifetime: the “Queen of Hearts”, a herbal expert and a bathing beauty who was even accused of witchcraft by malicious tongues. A magnificent silver alter and Madonna by imperial architect Giovanni Lucchese is the main feature of the room alongside another special piece: an organ with pipes made exclusively of wood.