Santa Sofia, Benevento

Santa Sofia is a Roman Catholic church in the town of Benevento, in the region of Campania, in southern Italy; founded in the late-8th century, it retains many elements of its original Lombard architecture.

In 2011, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a group of seven inscribed as Longobards in Italy. Places of the power (568-774 A.D.).

Benevento-Facciata Santa Sofia
Santa Sofia.
Benevento-Santa Sofia-portale
The portal.


The church was founded by the Lombard Arechis II of Benevento around 760, as testified by numerous privileges signed by him, some of which are in the Museum of Samnium near the church. The edifice was modeled on the Palatine Chapel of the Lombard king Liutprand in Pavia and, after the defeat of Desiderius by Charlemagne and the fall of the Lombard kingdom in northern Italy (774), it became the national church of the Lombards who had taken shelter in the Duchy of Benevento. The church was part of a large program of construction which would legitimate Arechis' claim as the highest Lombard authority, after his failed attempt to acquire the title of king and the renaming of the duchy as a principality.[1]

Arechis dedicated it to Sainte Sophia, like the Hagia Sophia basilica in Constantinople; he also annexed a nearby Benediction female convent, which had been dependant to the Abbey of Montecassino. The convent was placed on the leadership of his sister Gariperga. The sanctuary would also house the relics of Saint Mercurius, which putatively had been abandoned in 633 near Quintodecimo by the eastern Roman emperor Constans II.[2]

The church was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1688 and another in 1702, which collapsed the original dome and some later medieval additions. Cardinal Orsini, the future Pope Benedict XIII, had the church rebuilt in Baroque style. The restoration work, started in 1705, transformed the plan from a stellar to a circular one, added two side chapels, and changed the appearance of the apse, of the façade and of the pillars. Further, the frescoes which decorated the interior were mostly destroyed: today only a few fragments, depicting the Stories of Christ and Mary, remain.[3]

Benevento, chiesa di santa sofia, annuncio a zaccaria (particolare) affresco fine VIII inizio IX secolo
Detail of the frescoes, with the Annunciation of Zacharias.

In 1957 most of the original appearance was restored, basing on evidence from historical documentation, with the exception of the Baroque façade.


The church is on a central plan, with a diameter of 23.5 m, inspired to that of Hagia Sofia. In the center there are six columns, perhaps taken from the city's ancient Temple of Isis, placed at the vertexes of a hexagon and connected by arches which support the dome. The internal hexagon is surrounded by a decagonal ring with eight pillars in white limestone and two columns and the sides of the entrance. The area of the three apses is circular, but the central and frontal parts form part of a star, interrupted by the portal, with four niches in the corners.

In the exterior, embedded in the 18th-century façade, is a Romanesque portal, whose lunette has a 13th-century bas-relief.[2] The latter was originally part of the prothyrum, now destroyed, and depicts Christ enthroned between the Virgin, St Marcurius and Gregory the Abbot. The portal is flanked by two columns supporting another arch.

The structure was influenced by a variety of sources. The elevated central body recalls the no-longer extant church of Santa Maria in Pertica of Pavia, while the articulation of the volumes shows the influence of Byzantine architecture.[4]

Aside from some modern statues, artworks include the late 8th- to early 9th-century frescoes, of which only fragments survive in the two side apses: the Annunciation of Zacharias, Mutism of Zacharias, the Annunciation and the Visitation. They were executed by artists linked to the school of illuminators from Benevento.[2]

The bell tower was built by abbot Gregory II while under the rule of Pandulf III of Salerno, as testified by an inscription in Lombard script, and protected the sepulchre of Arechis II. It crumbled down in the earthquake of 1688 and was rebuilt in 1703 in a different position.

The church has a cloister from the 12th century, constructed in part of fragments of earlier buildings. The cloister give access to the Samnium Museum, with sections of remains from Ancient age and Middle Ages. These include an obelisk, one of the two that once decorated the Temple of Isis. The other one can be still seen in the city, in the central Piazza Papiniano.


  1. ^ Rovagnati, Sergio. I Longobardi. pp. 92–93.
  2. ^ a b c Bartolini Luongo, Giuseppina. Benevento, storia, arte e folkore. pp. 78–80.
  3. ^ __ (2008). La chiesa di Santa Sofia. Gazzetta di Benevento.
  4. ^ De Vecchi, Pierluigi; Elda Cerchiari. I Longobardi in Italia. pp. 309–314.

Coordinates: 41°08′N 14°47′E / 41.133°N 14.783°E


Aeclanum (also spelled Aeculanum, Italian: Eclano, Ancient Greek: Ἀικούλανον) was an ancient town of Samnium, southern Italy, about 25 km east-southeast of Beneventum, on the Via Appia. It lies in Passo di Mirabella, near the modern Mirabella Eclano.


Capua is a city and comune in the province of Caserta, in the region of Campania, southern Italy, situated 25 km (16 mi) north of Naples, on the northeastern edge of the Campanian plain.


Cumae (Ancient Greek: Κύμη, translit. (Kumē) or Κύμαι (Kumai) or Κύμα (Kuma); Italian: Cuma) was the first ancient Greek colony on the mainland of Italy, founded by settlers from Euboea in the 8th century BC and soon becoming one of the strongest colonies. It later became a rich Roman city, the remains of which lie near the modern village of Cuma, a frazione of the comune Bacoli in the Province of Naples, Campania, Italy.

The archaeological museum of the Campi Flegri in the Aragonese castle contains many finds from Cumae.

Fabrizio Ruffo

Fabrizio Ruffo (16 September 1744 – 13 December 1827) was an Italian cardinal and politician, who led the popular anti-republican Sanfedismo movement (whose members were known as the Sanfedisti).

Holy Wisdom

Holy Wisdom (Greek Ἁγία Σοφία, Latin Sancta Sapientia, Russian Святая София Премудрость Божия "Holy Sophia, Divine Wisdom") is a concept in Christian theology.

Christian theology received the Old Testament personification of Wisdom (Hebrew Chokhmah) as well as the concept of Wisdom (Sophia) from Greek philosophy, especially Platonism.

In Christology, Christ the Logos as God the Son was identified with Divine Wisdom from earliest times.

The identification of Holy Wisdom with God the Son remains particularly pronounced in Eastern Orthodoxy, while the Latin Rite has placed more emphasis of the identication of God the Son with the Logos.

There has also been a minority position which identified Wisdom with the Holy Spirit instead. Furthermore, in mystical interpretations forwarded in Russian Orthodoxy, known as Sophiology, Holy Wisdom as a feminine principle came to be identified with the Theotokos (Mother of God) rather than with Christ himself. Similar interpretations were proposed in feminist theology as part of the "God and Gender" debate in the 1990s.

La Trinità della Cava

La Trinità della Cava (Latin: Abbatia Territorialis Sanctissimae Trinitatis Cavensis), commonly known as Badia di Cava, is a Benedictine territorial abbey located near Cava de' Tirreni, in the province of Salerno, southern Italy. It stands in a gorge of the Finestre Hills.

Lombard architecture

The term Lombard architecture refers to the architecture of the Kingdom of the Lombards in Italy, which lasted from 568 to 774 (with residual permanence in southern Italy until the 10th-11th centuries) and which was commissioned by Lombard kings and dukes.

The architectural works of the Lombards in northern Italy (Langobardia Major) have been mostly lost due to later renovations or reconstructions, the few exceptions including the Lombard Temple at Cividale del Friuli or the church of Santa Maria fuori Portas at Castelseprio. More examples have instead survived in southern Italy (Langobardia Minor), especially in what was the Duchy of Benevento: they include the city's walls, the church of Santa Sofia and the Rocca dei Rettori, one of the few surviving Lombard military structures, as well as other minor sites near Benevento and in the former duchy of Spoleto.

The main surviving examples of Lombard architecture have been included in the Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568-774 A.D.) site. This consists of seven places with notable architectural, artistic and sculptural, and it is in the UNESCO Heritage list since 2011.


Oplontis is an ancient Roman archaeological site located in the middle of the city of Torre Annunziata, which is south of Naples in the Campania region of southern Italy..The name "Oplontis" most likely referred originally to the baths in the area of Campo Oncino. The site comprises two Roman villas, the best-known of which is the so-called Villa Poppaea. Like the nearby towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Oplontis was buried in ash and lava during the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.,The first villa, referred to by archaeologists as Villa A, was rediscovered in 1590 during the construction of a canal, but no attempt was made to explore the ruins. In 1839-40, archaeological excavations were begun, but ceased due to lack of funds. It was only in 1964-84 that a full-scale excavation was performed that revealed about 60% of the villa, including a large swimming pool and private baths. The parts of the villa lying under modern structures remain unexcavated.

A pottery sherd bearing the name of freedman of Poppaea Sabina, the second wife of Nero was found at the site, which suggests the villa may have been the Empress’ residence when she was away from Rome. Badly damaged in the earthquake of A.D. 62, Villa A was probably uninhabited and in the process of being rebuilt (a number of tools were found on the site) at the time of the A.D. 79 eruption.

Villa A is famous for its Second- and Third-Style wall paintings. The former are found in the oldest part of the building, which date from c. 50 B.C., while the latter were created when the villa was rebuilt after the earthquake.

A second villa, Villa B, the Villa of L. Crassius Tertius, was discovered in 1974, 300 metres east of the Villa Poppaea, during the construction of a school. A bronze seal bearing Crassius' name was found at the site. Villa B is much smaller than Villa A, and lacks the latter’s lavish decoration.

A large number of artifacts from Oplontis are preserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.

Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni

The Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni is an Italian national park in the Province of Salerno, in Campania in southern Italy. It includes much of the Cilento, the Vallo di Diano and the Monti Alburni. It was founded in 1991, and was formerly known as the Parco Nazionale del Cilento e Vallo di Diano.


Pompeii () was an ancient Roman city near modern Naples in the Campania region of Italy, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area (e.g. at Boscoreale, Stabiae), was buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Many of the inhabitants were also buried before they could escape.

Largely preserved under the ash, the excavated city offers a unique snapshot of Roman life, frozen at the moment it was buried and providing an extraordinarily detailed insight into the everyday life of its inhabitants. During excavations liquid plaster was used to fill voids in the ash that once held organic remains including wood, human and animal bodies, giving unique and often gruesome images of their last moments. The numerous graffiti carved on the walls and inside rooms provides a wealth of information regarding Vulgar Latin spoken colloquially rather than that of the classical writers.

Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.Excavations recommenced in several unexplored areas of the city and in 2018 new discoveries were reported.

Royal Palace of Caserta

The Royal Palace of Caserta (Italian: Reggia di Caserta [ˈrɛddʒa di kaˈzɛrta; kaˈsɛrta]; Neapolitan: Reggia 'e Caserta [ˈrɛdːʒ(ə) e kaˈsertə]) is a former royal residence in Caserta, southern Italy, constructed by the Spanish royal family as their main residence as kings of Naples. It is one of the largest palaces erected in Europe during the 18th century. In 1997, the palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site; its nomination described it as "the swan song of the spectacular art of the Baroque, from which it adopted all the features needed to create the illusions of multidirectional space". In terms of volume, the Royal Palace of Caserta is the largest royal residence in the world with over 2 million m³ and covering an area of about 235,000 m².

Solfatara (volcano)

Solfatara (Italian: Solfatara di Pozzuoli) is a shallow volcanic crater at Pozzuoli, near Naples, part of the Phlegraean Fields (Italian: Campi Flegrei) volcanic area. It is a dormant volcano, which still emits jets of steam with sulfurous fumes. The name comes from the Latin, Sulpha terra, "land of sulfur", or "sulfur earth". It was formed around 4000 years ago and last erupted in 1198 with what was probably a phreatic eruption - an explosive steam-driven eruption caused when groundwater interacts with magma. The crater floor is a popular tourist attraction, as it has many fumaroles and mud pools. The area is well known for its bradyseism. The vapours have been used for medical purposes since Roman times.

This volcano is where the thermoacidophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus was first isolated. The archaeon is named for the volcano, as most species of the genus Sulfolobus are named for the area where they are first isolated.

In 305, this is the location where the patron of Pozzuoli, Saint Proculus, and the patron of Naples, Saint Januarius were beheaded.

In Roman myth, it was purported to be the home of the god Vulcan.

In 2017, three people—an 11-year-old boy and his parents—died, when they fell into a chasm. Initial rumors that claimed that the boy had entered an off-limits area of the crater were declared false by an eyewitness who had watched the scene unfold from her balcony. According to the eyewitness, the family were on the official walking path, when the 11-year-old slipped into the unsecured chasm. His parents died in an attempt to save him. The only survivor was the boy's 7-year-old brother.

Sorrento Peninsula

The Sorrento Peninsula or Sorrentine Peninsula is a peninsula located in southern Italy that separates the Gulf of Naples to the north from the Gulf of Salerno to the south.


Stabiae was an ancient Roman town near the modern town of Castellammare di Stabia and approximately 4.5 km southwest of Pompeii, which became famous for the magnificent Roman villas found there in recent times. The beautiful objects and frescoes taken from these villas were often sold and distributed, while many can be found in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.

The villas were sited on a 50 m high headland overlooking the Gulf of Naples. Being only 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Mount Vesuvius, this seaside resort was largely buried by two metres of tephra ash in 79 AD.

Vesuvius National Park

Vesuvius National Park (Italian: Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio) is an Italian national park centered on the active volcano Vesuvius, southeast from Naples. The park was founded in June 5, 1995 and covers an area of around 135 square kilometers all located within the Province of Naples.

It is centered on the active volcano and its most ancient (now inactive) crater, Monte Somma. It houses 612 vegetable species and 227 wildlife ones.

Villa Poppaea

The Villa Poppaea is an ancient Roman seaside villa (villa maritima) situated between Naples and Sorrento, in southern Italy. It is also called the Villa Oplontis or Oplontis Villa A by modern archaeologists. The villa itself is a large structure situated in the ancient Roman town of Oplontis (the modern Torre Annunziata), about ten metres below modern ground level. Evidence suggests that it was owned by the Emperor Nero, and it is believed to have been used by his second wife, Poppaea Sabina, as her main residence when she was not in Rome.

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