Temple of Minerva – Assisi, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Temple of Minerva

Assisi, Italy

What appears to be an ancient Roman temple is actually a Catholic church.  


The Temple of Minerva in the town of Assisi, in Umbria, appears to be a perfectly preserved example of a Roman temple from the outside, but inside is home to a Catholic church.

The Roman building was named during the 1st-century BCE, probably as part of the town’s forum. The structure is a typical Roman temple with six tall Corinthians columns supporting the architrave in the façade. The temple was erroneously attributed to Minerva because of a female statue located inside the building, but later studies found a dedication stone to Hercules.

During the Early Middle Ages, the cella of the temple was transformed into a church and later into dwellings and workshops. During the 13th-century, the temple became the city hall of Assisi, which included a tribunal and a jail.

In 1539, at the behest of Pope Paul III, the temple was finally transformed into a Catholic church known as Santa Maria sopra Minerva. These restoration works went on into the 17th-century, however, the cella was completely demolished and the building was reworked in a Baroque style. A bell tower known as Torre del Popolo (Tower of the People) was also added.

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