Talk about luxury—you’ll have to be rich and famous just to get into some of Italy’s most breathtaking structures. But even if you can’t afford to stay at any of the world-renowned hotels or live in one of the breathtaking villas, that doesn’t mean you can’t admire them from the outside! From the Ponte Vecchio in Florence to the Basilica San Marco in Venice, here are unbelievable facts about Italy’s architecture.
1) The Colosseum
One of Rome’s most iconic buildings is the Colosseum. It was originally built as an amphitheater and it could house 50,000 spectators. The site has now been restored to be used as a venue for music concerts, art exhibitions and cultural events. Festivals are held at the arena every summer, such as Campo de’ Fiori during June and July or Trastevere during September.
In addition to these festivals, there are many other museums worth visiting on your trip to Italy including:
Galleria Borghese Museum which houses over 6300 paintings including those by Titian, Raphael and Caravaggio; Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia with its Egyptian collections from Memphis; Casa Romantica where you can see Italian painting from 1800-1900s.
2) The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Europe and has been featured in books, movies, TV shows, and art for centuries. Originally commissioned as a bell tower back in 1173, there are many theories about why it leans to one side. Some say it was caused by faulty construction while others believe that the ground shifted because of earthquakes. What we do know for sure is that if you climb to the top, you’ll enjoy a stunning view of the Tuscan countryside.
3) St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most recognized churches in the world, both for its architectural significance and its famous history. Construction began on the project in 1506 and was completed in 1626 – a total of 200 years! Nowadays, St. Peter’s Basilica is a tourist hotspot, with a reported six million visitors every year. While you’re there, you may notice something a little bit unusual: music! You see, this basilica is home to not one but two organs that are played during mass or whenever there are special events.
4) The Pantheon
Commissioned by the Emperor Hadrian around 125 AD, this building still stands today. Hadrian had recently completed a successful military campaign in Egypt and Syria, thus he wanted a temple dedicated to all of his gods as thanks for his success. The Romans had been drawn to this type of circular design since the days of Ancient Greece and it became popular again in Rome during the Renaissance. The Pantheon is one of the few remaining buildings from ancient Rome that has stood the test of time, which is why its beauty still stands out today.
It was made with concrete, brick, and marble on a stone foundation. Its roof is suspended by huge Roman concrete columns that have never needed any reinforcement throughout history due to their clever design.
5) The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is an amazing work of art and architecture. Michelangelo painted the ceiling, depicting scenes from the Bible, with help from other artists like Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino and Pinturicchio. The interior of the chapel was decorated by other Renaissance artists including Raphael, Pinturicchio and Signorelli. There are nine chapels in total on either side of the nave of the church. Eighteen large windows fill the walls with natural light during the day. These nine chapels were designed to house tombs or monuments for various members of Italian nobility or royalty. There are two main altars in each chapel which include one dedicated to St. Michael
6) The Baptistery of Florence
The Baptistery of Florence is one of the most important architectural monuments in the city. It is located on Piazza del Duomo, next to Florence Cathedral. The building was originally a Roman temple, dedicated to Mars and built in the 2nd century AD. The original building occupied a rectangular area similar to that of the Palazzo Vecchio, with an entrance from Via dei Cerchi up until 1859 when it was demolished. In 1296, it was replaced by an octagonal one. The design was by Diotisalvi (1250-1320) who died before its completion so the work had been continued by Andrea Pisano (c. 1290-1348). Today this monument hosts weddings.
7) The Cathedral of Milan
The Cathedral of Milan is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Milan, northern Italy. The church is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan and was one of the major churches to be rebuilt in Europe following World War II. Dedicated to Saint Mary, it is the cathedral for the Archdiocese of Milan, having been one of the main churches for centuries. It was built between 1386 and 1479 on what used to be a cemetery. This site is said to have been a place where Saint Ambrose would say Mass on holidays and feast days, making it an important location even before Christianity came to dominate this area.
8) The Basilica of Santa Croce
The Basilica of Santa Croce is a Roman Catholic church in Florence, Italy. It has been called one of the greatest examples of Italian Gothic architecture and has been ranked as one of the most beautiful churches in the world. The basilica was consecrated on 18 November 1442 by Pope Eugene IV and is known for its distinctive black and white marbled interior.
The church contains many works by famous artists, such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, and Alberti.