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San Salvatore, Ancient Longobard Church in Spoleto

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The Ancient Longobard Church of San Salvatore
san salvatore column photo

San Salvatore Interior Close-up

© by Rebecca Winke, Brigolante Guest Apartments

Spoleto's San Salvatore Church is one of the Longobard monuments included in Longobards in Italy, Places of the Power, UNESCO World Heritage site. In this article Rebecca Winke, Brigolante Guest Apartments in Umbria, shares an inside look at the ancient church of San Salvatore:

Churches and monasteries dating from the Longobard period (568-774 AD) are easily overlooked — the later Romanesque and Renaissance cathedrals, with their intricate stonework, breathtaking mosaics, and delicate frescoes, are usually the big crowd pleasers.

That said, the venerable paleo-Christian architecture typical of this transitional period between Antiquity and the Middle Ages is beginning to receive the attention it deserves. In June of 2011 a network of Longobard monuments in Italy were listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage sites (Longobards in Italy, Places of the Power), including the church of San Salvatore in Spoleto.

Perhaps one of the most unfairly unsung churches in the region, San Salvatore is an outstanding example of one of the hallmarks of Longobard architecture: pilfering. As the Roman empire came to an end and Christianity began to spread, early churches often incorporated architectural elements plucked from surrounding abandoned villas and pagan temples. The remarkably well-preserved San Salvatore, dating from the late 4th century, features both re-used Roman architectural elements and Medieval stonework emulating the Classical style.

The use of Roman fragments is evident immediately in the facade, the upper portion of which features three windows with cornices reminiscent of Classical aedicules, and underneath three portals adorned with elaborate Classical-style floral reliefs.

Continue: A Look Inside the Ancient Church

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