Discovering Lombard heritage
In Benevento, along the central Corso Garibaldi, stands an architectural masterpiece: the Church of Santa Sofia. This religious building overlooks the square of the same name: founded by Arechi II and completed in 762, it is one of the most important examples of Lombard heritage in Campania and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Despite being small, the Church of Saint Sophia has a unique layout, inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople: six central columns are arranged at the corners of a hexagon, connected by arches supporting the dome. A decagonal ring with eight white limestone pillars surrounds the inner hexagon. Two additional columns feature either side of the entrance, topped by irregular vaulted coverings.
Inside, the church is brought to life by unusual perspective effects and rich artistic references, from the Lombard to the Byzantine tradition. Particularly striking are the fragments of the original, once brightly coloured frescoes painted by the Benevento School of Miniature between the 8th and 9th centuries.
When it comes to the exterior façade, restored in the 18th century, be sure to admire the Romanesque portal and the ancient bas-relief in the lunette.