Basilica of Sant Angelo - History and Facts | History Hit

Basilica of Sant Angelo

Capua, Campania, Italy

The Basilica of Sant Angelo is an eleventh century church partially made up of the remains of a Roman temple.

Peta Stamper

13 May 2021
Image Credit: DinoPh / Shutterstock

About Basilica of Sant Angelo

The Basilica of Sant Angelo in Formis is an 11th century Benedictine church constructed on the former site of a Roman temple in Campania, Italy. The remains of this Roman temple are incorporated into the Basilica of Sant Angelo, including Doric columns and floor.

The current form of Sant Angelo in Formis dates back to 1053 and visitors can step inside to view its colourfully frescoed interior.

Basilica of Sant Angelo history

The first basilica can be traced back to the Lombardic period as the cult of the Archangel Michael spread to the Lombards in the late 6th century. Built on top of the Temple of Diana Tifatina, the most important pre-Christian sanctuary in the region, by the end of the 10th century the basilica had fallen into disuse.

The Lombards donated the church to the Abbot Desiderio di Montecassino, who had the church rebuilt between 1072 and 1087 in the Romanesque style. The abbot commissioned stunning frescoes of the Byzantine-Campana school to decorate the interior. During the 12th century, further frescoes were added as well as the reconstruction of the bell tower which had collapsed earlier.

The remains of the Roman temple to Diana Tifatina were found in 1877 and excavators noticed how the basilica traced the structure and shape of the temple, adding structures to the ends of the original aisles.

Basilica of Sant Angelo today

Open every day between 9.30am and 7pm, the Basilica of Sant Angelo provides a welcome escape from the hot Italian sun and a unique step back through the centuries to the Lombardic and Roman period. Entry only costs €1 and for that price you can walk through the Norman-inspired entrance portico into this ancient site.

Crane your neck to see the apse decorated with an outstandingly well-preserved fresco that depicts an enthroned Christ and the symbols of the 4 Evangelists. Within the walls of the church you can also make out the columns of the Roman temple.

Getting to Basilica of Sant Angelo

The best way to find Basilica of Sant Angelo is by driving to Formis from Caserta via the SS 700 road between Capua and Maddaloni. Otherwise, get the REG train from caserta to Santa Maria Capua Vetere before getting the 7 to Piedimonte Matese and walking 15 minutes to the Basilica of Sant Angelo. On foot, the church is not hard to find, located at the top of the village. There is car parking in front of the building.

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