Are you are looking for a church in Italy? You are in the right place; read to discover best churches in Italy. It should come as no surprise that 74.4% of Italians identify as Catholics. Churches discussed here are historic and have seen the test of time.
Let us look at a few of the best churches in Italy;
- Basilica of the Holy Cross
This church was founded by Franciscan priests. Its completion happened in 1385 and has an interesting architecture. If you walk into this building, you will see sixteen chapels. In 2017 it was closed because of a maintenance incident but as you are currently reading this article, it is open to the public.
2. Santa Maria Del Fiore (also known as Florence)
Designed and styled by Filippo Brunelleschi, this cathedral took 140 years to complete. It is beautiful both inside and out with great architectural designs and patterns. You should come to this Cathedral and be charmed by its uniqueness.
3. Church of St Francis of Assisi
Named after Francis, who was a priest in the 13th Century this church was built immediately after his death to remember his sacrifice. This man was canonized 2 years after his death. The church attracts millions of Pilgrims yearly and is considered a sacred ground.
4. Monreale Cathedral
It is among the most beautiful cathedrals located near Palermo, Sicily, Italy. The cathedral is luxuriously decorated and derives its uniqueness from a mixture of Norman, Arab and Byzantine styles. Once you step into this building you have a feel of what Norman Kings tastes were in the Old and New Testament.
5. Milan Cathedral
Construction of this church has happened through the course of five centuries, that is 15th, 17th ,18th ,19th and 20th. The first impression you get when stepping into this cathedral is its massive height and large intricately designed windows. In the 15th Century, Marco Careli was one of the church’s benefactors donating 35, 000 ducats.
All churches listed above are a must visit while in Italy. That was a brief description of what to expect. We must add that this is a biased list of some of our favorites. As you move to the next paragraph you are about to discover additional famous churches that you should look out for while in Italy.
Why visiting at least one church listed above is a good idea
First, you get to experience the rich history that Italy has to offer. How great would it be to take good photos next to portraits and statues of famous people who contributed richly to the church’s history? This is a once in a life time opportunity.
The next time you see a poster asking you to contribute to the needy in society, take a step back and reflect. The money you pay to access tours at these churches is used to fund such noble causes. Visit that church, make the contribution. You will be proud of yourself. You may be wondering, what difference will your contribution make? We shall explain in the next paragraph.
We applaud you for reaching this far into the article, keep in mind that the best churches in Italy are equally rich in history. Plainly put, the churches are old and require modification as well as repair. We do not call them best for no reason. They are a product of sweat and hard work of some of the best architects the world is yet to see.
As early as 2017, Basilica of the Holy Cross listed above caused the death of a Spanish tourist because of a Masonry issue. Such incidences are not so common and can be avoided if they are well funded. How can you help? The next paragraph tells you how.
Visiting these churches means they get funds to maintain them. Generations to come (our great-great grandchildren) will smile as they walk around remembering these preserved tourist attractions acting as historical artefacts. Dear reader, what better way to leave Italy than knowing you were part of something great?
Santa Maria del Fiore which is number two on our list and Europe’s largest when it was finished in the 15th century.
This is more reason why visiting historical architectural churches is important. Preserving such monuments is a noble thing to do. Touring Santa Maria del Flore may not only prove to be a great adventure but also a once in a lifetime opportunity for you.
“It would be robbery on our part if we didn’t give to someone in more need than ourselves.”-St Francis of Asissi. This man should be a driving force for visiting the best churches in Italy. As a patron Saint, his actions of helping those in need stood out greatly.
Visiting these places of worship is significant to the faithful because it is a reminder of how selfless some people lived in the past century. To commemorate them, these places were built and exist today.
The cathedral at Monreale, one of Sicily’s most popular tourist sites, was built as both a political and an artistic statement. The end result is Sicily’s most important legacy to the Normans’ artistic skills. The Norman kingdom’s overall image as the greatest worldly and religious authority is shown here in unmatched richness.
The cathedral may rightfully claim a position in Europe’s art history because of its mosaic cycle on a gold background and its amazing monastery. The more reason why it is open to many tourists from across the world. You should consider this as your next tourist destination.
A look at our final cathedral on the list of best churches in Italy, only Seville Cathedral is larger than Milan’s Duomo (St. Peter’s Basilica isn’t a cathedral, thus it doesn’t qualify). The cathedral in Milan is 157 meters long, with enough space for 40,000 people. It took over 600 years to create the Gothic cathedral.
This is a rich cultural place which is worth your time. Milan Cathedral is breathtaking. The best thing about it is prices are affordable and are scheduled to avoid confusion. A tour around the cathedral will leave you with a great cultural experience of what Italy has to offer.
Here are additional famous churches in Italy
Take note as you read that this is not comprehensive but is our most loved and famous list.
1. St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican
Without doubt, it is a beautiful structure even though Vatican City is considered a separate country on its own. It tops the list since the pope is the head of this country. The Basilica of St. Peter is the biggest of the papal basilicas and one of the world’s largest structures.
St. Peter’s Basilica is currently a 218-meter-long structure with a 136-meter-high dome. It’s 23,000 square meters in size. This basilica, which has been regarded as a significant architectural achievement due to the size of its facade and the quality of its work.
Yearly the basilica welcomes visitors from all over the globe to see the greatest sculptures of the period and enjoy a work that has taken centuries to complete. Whether or not you are a Christian, visiting this place should be on your bucket list.
2. The Basilica of Saint Anthony, Padova
This is an undiscovered gem that has been placed here. Definitely should be number one on your list. It is a mix of eclectic styles and most beautifully painted ceiling. It ranks highly next to the Sistine Chapel.
3. Sistine chapel
It is also located in Vatican and undoubtedly has one of the most decorative ceilings in the world. It was painted by Michelangelo and has proved resilient throughout the centuries. New popes are elected in this chapel. It is rich in history and attracts pilgrims yearly in large numbers.
In 1512, Michelangelo completed the Sistine Chapel. Its significance in art history cannot be emphasized. It became a true academy for budding artists, a reputation that Michelangelo solidified when he returned to the chapel twenty years later to paint the Last Judgment fresco on the altar wall.
4. St. Marks’ Basilica
This beauty is found in Venice Italy and was consecrated in 1093. During a tour at this cathedral, upstairs you will see Balcony of the Horses known as Triumphal Quadriga translated as horses of St. Mark.
The basilica contains around 500 columns and capitals, the majority of which date from the 6th to 11th century and are Byzantine. There are even several classical capitals from the third century!
This cathedral is a must visit for tourists and all people, Christian or not.
5. Orvieto Cathedral
This medieval cathedral is one of Italy’s finest Romanesque — Gothic wonders, with a brilliant mosaic-covered exterior. The massive bronze doors, outside statuary, and two internal chapels with magnificent murals are noteworthy. The cathedral’s surroundings, perched above a tufa ridge, is breathtaking.
6. The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere
It is a renowned tourist destination that was formerly the city’s oldest Marian church. The church has kept much of its medieval character after repeated reconstructions and restorations, owing in part to the numerous original mosaics.
7. Santa Maria della Minerva
This Dominican church was erected on the ruins of an Isis temple and is located near the Pantheon. It is also unique in that it is Rome’s only Gothic church. The ‘Cristo della Minerva,’ a famous Michelangelo sculpture from 1521, may be seen to the left of the main altar. The iconic monument is located in the square in front of the church.
8. Catania’s Cathedral of St. Agatha
St. Agatha’s Cathedral, despite getting destroyed and rebuilt several times as a result of earthquakes and eruptions from adjacent Mount Etna, it remains one of Sicily’s most magnificent churches. It boasts a superb Carrara marble three-level Sicilian Baroque façade.
9. Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua
The large building was completed in 1310, however it has experienced various extensions and rebuilding since then, the majority of which happened between end of the fourteenth century and middle of the 15th century.
Here are a number of chapels in this basilica;
· The body of Saint Anthony is kept in a tomb called Arca in the Chapel of Saint Anthony;
· the relics of the saint are kept in the Treasury Chapel, which is built in the Baroque style;
· the tomb of Gattamelata and his son Giannantonio is kept in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Chapel of St. James, which was built in the Gothic style in the 1370s, is particularly lovely. It has frescoes by Altichiero da Zevio, a prominent Gothic painter. The stories of St. James are shown in frescoes, but the centerpiece — the Crucifixion — is his masterwork.
As the pandemic season is declining, restriction on travel and movement across many countries has been lifted. This is the perfect opportunity to pack your bags and make history by coming to Italy to visit one, two, three (honestly as many as you want) famous churches in Italy provided in our list. Not only is it important for you but it is also a way of creating memories.
Take your time today to book that flight or bus ticket and take part in recreating history by visiting these monumental places. As the wise saying goes, old places have a soul. Going to such places is key since you get to see how civilizations have evolved with time through the centuries.
Individually, these churches have a story to tell. From surviving war, to witnessing some of the world’s greatest plagues and weather conditions. They deserve the honorary treatment they are given. They deserve preservation and maintenance. They are the bedrock of Italy. You would agree with me as well, wouldn’t you?
As a final thought, the Best Churches in Italy are the best because our ancestors took their time to preserve them. These churches act as places of worship for the Roman Catholic faithful as well as tourist attractions. We have a duty to protect and preserve them, you included.