The Longobards and Their Places of Power

In 2011 the UNESCO World Heritage Committee named the "Longobards in Italy and Their Places of Power" a UNESCO World Heritage Site, given their historical and artistic status. These “places of power” and the monuments realized during the rule of the Longobards in Italy, they are now protected under the tutelage of the Committee.

Dispersed all the way from Udine to Foggia, these evocative and intriguing places represent an era of domination that lasted from 568 - when Alboin, the Longobards’ leader, undertook the conquest of the Peninsula, thus beginning his Kingdom - to 774 A.D., when Charlemagne brought down their reign. The centers of power and worship number seven in total, and each of them is the fingerprint, so to speak, of a culture capable of assimilating what was left of Late Antiquity (i.e. the Late Roman Empire) to their own typical Germanic values and traditions, thus bequeathing a brand new cultural, political and administrative structure to Italy at the time.

Cividale del Friuli

Cividale del Friuli (in Udine Province) is the site of the very first Longobard Duchy, and it is here that one finds the Episcopal Complex of Callisto the Patriarch: expect to see the remains of the Patriarchal Palace and the splendid Longobard Tempietto (temple).


Tempietto Longobardo
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The Longobard Tempietto (temple), one of the epoch's most important architectonic testimonies in both Friuli Venezia Giulia and in Italy. The well-preserved temple is an excellent decorative display of coexistent Longobard motifs and Classical models.

Brescia

Brescia - Monastic Complex of Santa Giulia
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In Lombardy, precisely Brescia, lies the Monastic Complex of Santa Giulia with the Basilica of San Salvatore, evidence of the Longobards’ support to monastic movements. From an artistic point of view, the Complex is one of the major examplars of High-Medieval religious architecture. 

Castelseprio

Castelseprio - Torba Monastery
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In Castelseprio, in the Province of Varese is the area of the castrum (Roman military plot). Both a Roman and Ostrogoth military outpost, it was transformed by the Longobards first into a commercial hub, and later into a place of prayer and meditation. Witness the Basilica di San Giovanni, the Church of St. Mary Outside the Walls (foris portas) and the Torba Monastery.

Spoleto

Spoleto - Church of San Salvatore
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The Longobards even left their mark in Umbria, with the sacred architectural masterpiece of the Church of San Salvatore in Spoleto (Province of Perugia); previously a Paleochristian Basilica, the Longobards then restored it magnificently in the 8th Century.

Campello sul Clitunno

Campello sul Clitunno - Tempietto of Clitunno
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Meanwhile, not far away in Campello sul Clitunno stands the Tempietto of Clitunno, a tiny church dedicated to San Salvatore and featuring 7th-Century frescoes. This structure, in the Corinthian order, is of a high artistic caliber, a fact not lost on the masters of the Renaissance that esteemed it as a model for their own designs.

Benevento

Benevento - Monumental Complex of Santa Sofia
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The most important Longobard Duchy in south-central Italy is that of Benevento that extended between Campania, Basilicata and Apulia. 

Benevento hosts the Monumental Complex of Santa Sofia and of the homonymous Church, a few original frescoes of which are on view in its lateral apses.

Monte Sant'Angelo

Monte Sant'Angelo - Sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel
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Finally, also composing part of the Duchy of Benevento is the Sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel in Monte Sant'Angelo (Region of Apulia). The Sanctuary speaks to the Longobards’ veneration of the Archangel, and today it is a primary Christian pilgrimage destination.