Church of Santa Maria in Castello

Old Town

Chiesa di Santa Maria in Castello

Centro Storico

Church of Santa Maria in Castello

1121 – 1208

The building served as a cathedral until 1435, but it was later abandoned and underwent various changes and restoration efforts over time. The construction of this building, which dominates with its grandeur the valley of the River Marta down to the Tyrrhenian Sea, dates back to the year 1121. It was completed in 1208 and solemnly consecrated in the presence of ten bishops. Built in the Romanesque style on the pre-existing site of the early medieval chapel of S. Maria ad rupes, its interior has three naves supported and divided by a series of semi-columns adorned with strips and capitals in nenfro. The floor consists of elegant Cosmatesque style mosaics and today only traces of these remain. In the nave to the right there is a beautiful octagonal immersion baptismal font. It has transalpine, Lombard and Arab influences. The ciborium and ambo are also remarkable. The straight-end façade with a bell tower has three round-arched doorways, a double-light window, called ‘bifora’, and two single-light windows, called ‘monofora’, both in Cosmatesque style. The outer left wall, decorated with pilasters with hanging arches and nenfro corbels, has ten single-light windows. At the top of the central wall is a Lombard-style rose window corresponding to an oculus on the opposite wall. The three apses (polygonal in the middle and irregular and circular at both sides) stand on the cliff. The outer right wall is reinforced by a buttress. A number of epigraphs and inscriptions contemporary with the building document its history (patronage, financing, clergy, workforce, and artists) and city politics in the 12th-13th centuries. This church, which had been a collegiate church governed by a prior with chaplains and canons, began to decay from 1435, the year in which Pope Eugene IV conferred the title of cathedral on the Church of Santa Margherita. In the 16th century, first the Carmelite Fathers and then the Conventual Fathers lived there, and the building underwent several restorations. In 1809, it was abandoned by the clergy in accordance with a decree imposed by the Napoleonic government. In 1819, the splendid hemispherical dome, rising above a cylindrical drum decorated inside and outside with marble columns supporting a succession of blind arches, collapsed because of a strong earthquake. The church has been a national monument since 1975.

CASTLE OUTER GATE

The Castle Outer Gate, dating back to the 12th-13th century, has a round arch and provides access to the village, located uphill from Fontana Nova and the River Marta. On the left, it features a bertesca (a type of defensive structure), while the upper subarch has a piombatoia (a type of projecting turret) and two plugged holes that used to support a wooden castelletto (a small castle or fortification).

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MUNICIPALITY OF TARQUINIA

Department of Tourism
Tax Code and VAT No. 00129650560

Education, Sport, Tourism, Cultural Activities

Piazza Matteotti, 6 – 01016 Tarquinia (VT)
Telephone: (+39) 0766 849224
Email: comune.tarquinia@comune.tarquinia.vt.it
https://www.comune.tarquinia.vt.it/it-it/home

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Barriera San Giusto – 01016 Tarquinia (VT)
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Email: info.turismo@tarquinia.net

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Photography by: César Vásquez Altamirano, Tiziano Crescia, Roberto Romano, Sailko Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported, Paolo Monti

Translations by Ylenia Marcucci e Alessandro Rotatori