The Oratory of Santa Maria in Valle is one of the most important and well-preserved examples of Longobard architecture, an interesting combination of typically Longobard motifs, such as friezes, and a reworking of classical models, creating a continuity between classical, Longobard and Carolingian art. The series is part of the series "Lombards in Italy: places of power", which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in June 2011 and includes seven places full of architectural, pictorial and sculptural evidence of Lombard art. Built in the middle of the 8th century on the site of the gastaldia, namely the palace of the gastaldo, this temple was primarily intended for Astolfo, Duke of Friuli from 744 to 749 and King of the Lombards from 749 to 756, and his wife Giseltrude. Later transformed into a monastery, the building consists of a hall with a square base and a cross vault, which closes with a lower presbytery, divided by columns into a three-bay loggia with parallel barrel vaults. The west wall, formerly the entrance, still retains traces of an exquisite stucco decoration and frescoes. The door's lunette is decorated with intertwining vines with grapes, while a figure of Christ between the Archangels Michael and Gabriel is portrayed in its centre. The most evocative part is the Frieze on the upper level of the building: six exceptionally well-preserved stucco relief figures of saints represent classical models reinterpreted in a Longobard style. Their monumental figures are distinguished by their greater sense of volume and their verticalism, which are accentuated by the length of the folds of their robes, reminiscent of Byzantine models.
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Oratory of Santa Maria in Valle
Via Monastero Maggiore, 34, 33043 Cividale del Friuli UD, Italia