The buildings in Italy have had various purposes, including honoring the gods, hosting magnificent gladiator battles, and serving as the seat of government. The allure of Italy’s structures isn’t solely due to their rich history and ability to withstand the test of time.
Tourists flock to the city with drones, cameras, and smartphones in hand to marvel at the splendor of each cathedral, colosseum, and palace. Italy’s architecture embraces the classical, Gothic, Romanesque, baroque, and Byzantine styles, from the refinement of Florence, Tuscany to the grandeur of Rome, Lazio. You’ll find symmetry and glitz on every facade, in every nook, and from the ground up.
Here is the list of the major historical architectural buildings in Italy that are worth a visit:
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is Italy’s most iconic bell tower with its musically tuned seven bells. It’s part of the Field of Miracles cathedral complex, including a baptistery, cemetery, bell tower, and cathedral.
In 1173 the tower’s construction began, and the building started to lean at that time. This was ascribed to the soft earth shifting, causing the foundation to become unstable. The building was completed in the 1300s. The Tower of Pisa began to fall at a pace of one to two millimeters every year over the next 800 years.
There are other bell towers in Pisa, Tuscany, including the bell tower at St. Michele dei Scalzi and another at the church of St. Nicola, and there are undoubtedly many more enticing places to visit in Tuscany that will often give you an antique sense.
The height of the dome, including its roundness, may overwhelm you when you enter the Pantheon. The dome’s shape is claimed to represent the vault of heaven, and the space is said to represent an intention to place all gods on the same standing.
The Pantheon is one of Rome’s best-preserved structures, and it’s a marvel of engineering and construction. This building was built between 118 and 125 AD to replace the Marcus Agrippa pantheon, which was ruined by fire in 80 AD, and it was originally built as a house of worship for ordinary people. This architectural marvel now serves as a tomb for famous people. Raphael and his fiancée and Italian rulers Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I are all buried here.
Duomo di Siena
The Duomo di Siena fascinates wherever you look, from the ancient busts of religious figures to the elaborate decorations on the floor. This Gothic structure is a must-see on your Italian vacation because of its wealth of detail and abundance of masterpieces. This structure was built between 1215 and 1263 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the inside out, it’s a true feast for the eyes. The facade and interior have alternating stripes of dramatic greenish black-and-white marble; black and white are Siena’s symbolic colors.
Look down and be amazed at the mosaic pavements, comprised of 56 etched and inlaid marble panels that tell a story. Matteo di Giovani’s “Massacre of the Innocents” is in the center. Some of the oldest designs in the cathedral can be found at the entrance: the “Wheel of Fortune” and the “Sienese Wolf Surrounded by Symbols of Allied Cities.” Don’t leave the cathedral without seeing Donatello’s St. John the Baptist and the spectacular Piccolomini Library, which has Pinturicchio’s exquisite landscape frescoes and a stunning ceiling in blue, gold, and scarlet.
Giotto’s Bell Tower
The bell tower was named after Giotto, the architect who worked on it for barely three years. Andrea Pisano and Francesco Talenti, who created the highest point of the tower, from which you can get a fantastic view of Florence, took over after the well-known architect died. There are no elevators, and there are 414 steps. Climbing the Giotto’s is not recommended for anyone with cardiac difficulties, claustrophobia, or vertigo.
The 16 life-size statues may be found in the tower’s various niches. These were created by a variety of artisans, including Donatello. These statues, however, are replicas; the originals can be seen at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the world, was built in the Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles. It is built on the burial location of Peter the Apostle in Vatican City, the seat of the Catholic faith. Inside, you will see pieces of art by Michaelangelo, who sculpted ‘The Pieta’ and designed the spectacular dome. The church has a seating capacity of 20,000 people. Men should not wear shorts when visiting, and women should not wear exposed shoulders or short skirts.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
This remarkable feat of ecclesiastical architecture was built in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Virgin of the Flower, and went through various architects. It was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio at the end of the thirteenth century and completed by Emilio de Fabris in the nineteenth century. Filippo Brunelleschi designed the dome in the 15th century.
The 7th-century church of Santa Reparata was demolished to make way for the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The crypt contains its remains. The Cathedral, as one of the world’s largest churches, has stunning frescoes. Don’t just marvel at the artwork; look at the other features, like the carpet-like mosaic pavements and the Paolo Uccello clock, designed in 1443 and still works today.
The Sforzesco Castle, located in Milan, was built as a fortress for the Visconti and later became a house for Milan’s rulers, the Sforzas. It has, among other things, vast courtyards, ducal halls with great art, and a treasure room. The family hired Leonardo da Vinci and Donato Bramante to transform the stronghold into a magnificent ducal mansion. During the four centuries of foreign occupation, it was later employed as a military complex. It now holds an incredible fine art collection, including Michaelangelo’s final incomplete work, the Ronda Pieta.
The Colosseum is colossal, measuring 188 meters (617 feet) in length, 156 meters (512 feet) in breadth, and 57 meters (187 feet) in height. During the Flavian Dynasty, the structure was built between 70 and 80 AD. It was initially known as the Flavian Amphitheater.
The Colosseum was a vast amphitheater that hosted gladiator fights, recreations of famous wars, theatrical productions, prisoner executions, and animal hunts. It was in use for more than 500 years, with the last recorded games in the 6th century. The Colosseum is now considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, attracting six million visitors each year. As a result, it gets incredibly crowded, so arrive early or purchase a ticket that permits you to escape the long lines.
Duomo di Milano
One of the world’s gigantic Catholic churches that can hold 40,000 people is Duomo di Milano. The cathedral’s construction began in 1386, driven by Bishop Antonio da Saluzzo’s vision and supported by Milan’s king, Gian Galeazzo Visconti. Both wanted a stunning structure, and they certainly got it. With 700 figures, 3,400 statues, and an abundance of gargoyles, the Duomo di Milano is one of the world’s most extravagant churches. On a Monday, an excellent time to come would be after vespers because one of the nails used in Jesus’ crucifixion is displayed.
The Doge’s Palace is a Venice monument that served as the official house of the doge (the elected leader). It was constructed as a fortified center core between the 10th and 11th centuries. It was transformed into a beautiful palace in the 12th century, and further extensions, including new jails in the 17th century, were built. This Venetian Gothic masterpiece is now a museum with unique tours that feature the doge’s hidden treasures.