Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi

Basilica in Assisi

Basilica Di San Francesco DAssisi

Since its construction in 1228, the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi has been a major site of Catholic pilgrimage. This sacred place enshrines the body of Saint Francis beneath its high altar and is renowned for its collection of paintings by Giotto. These works are pivotal in Western art history, marking a transition from Byzantine stylization to humanist narrative, realism, and three-dimensionality. The frescoes depict scenes from the life of Saint Francis and other biblical narratives, continuing to influence and captivate generations of artists.

Architectural Marvel

Architecturally, the basilica is an extraordinary feat, structured in two tiers: the Upper Church and the Lower Church. This design posed significant engineering challenges, ingeniously addressed through massive arched buttressing. The original creator of the basilica remains unknown due to the destruction of initial drawings during a raid by the Perugians, but it is commonly attributed to Lombard masons inspired by Gothic churches in southern France. The single-naved Upper Church, in particular, served as a model for countless Franciscan churches across Italy.

Artistic Treasures

Both the Upper and Lower Churches are adorned with exquisite frescoes, making them artistic treasure troves. The Lower Basilica exudes a dimly lit ambiance, while the Upper Basilica is characterized by its brightness and spaciousness. Giotto’s frescoes in the Upper Church, painted when he was still in his twenties, established him as a pivotal figure in the evolution of Western painting. The Lower Church boasts frescoes by esteemed painters Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti, alongside additional works by Giotto or his assistants.

Visiting Tips: Visitors should adhere to the basilica’s strict dress code, which prohibits bare shoulders or knees. To avoid crowds and ensure a more serene experience, it is advisable to visit early or late in the day. This timing allows visitors to fully appreciate the awe-inspiring ambiance of this historic and spiritual site.

The Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Assisi!

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Visiting Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi


Lower Church: from 6:00 to 18:30

Upper Church: from 8.30am to5.45pm

Tomb of St. Francis: from 6:00 to 18:00

Address: Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi, Piazza Inferiore di San Francesco, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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