Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi (Basilica of Saint Francis), Assisi

Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi (Basilica of Saint Francis), Assisi (must see)

Since its construction in 1228, the Basilica of Saint Francis has held major significance as a site of Catholic pilgrimage worldwide. Aside from enshrining the body of the venerated saint beneath the high altar, its collection of paintings by Giotto is renowned for its role in Western art history, transitioning from Byzantine stylization to humanist narrative, realism, and three-dimensionality. Depicting scenes from the life of the saint and other biblical narratives, these paintings have influenced generations of artists and continue to captivate.

Architecturally, the basilica is structured in two tiers, with the Upper Church above the Lower Church. This extraordinary feat presented significant engineering challenges, which were ingeniously addressed through the use of massive arched buttressing. While the original creator remains unknown due to the destruction of original drawings in a raid by the Perugians, it is commonly attributed to Lombard masons inspired by Gothic churches in southern France. The structure's design, particularly its single-naved Upper Church, served as a model for countless Franciscan churches across Italy.

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

Visitors should adhere to the basilica's strict dress code, which prohibits bare shoulders or knees. To avoid crowds, it is advisable to visit early or late in the day, ensuring a more serene experience amid the awe-inspiring ambiance.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Assisi. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi (Basilica of Saint Francis) on Map

Sight Name: Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi (Basilica of Saint Francis)
Sight Location: Assisi, Italy (See walking tours in Assisi)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Assisi, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Assisi

Create Your Own Walk in Assisi

Creating your own self-guided walk in Assisi is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
St. Francis' Assisi Walking Tour

St. Francis' Assisi Walking Tour

A holy city for Christians, Assisi has been an eternal destination of pilgrimage since the 13th century for those venerating Saint Francis and wanting to the see where he was born, worked, died and was buried. As the birthplace of one of Catholicism’s most revered saints (and one of Italy's two saintly patrons), Assisi holds religion very close to its heart.

The entire city-sanctuary –...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Assisi Introduction Walking Tour

Assisi Introduction Walking Tour

Assisi is located on the western slope of Mount Subasio. It is 1,300 feet above sea level, overlooking the rivers Topino and Chiasicio. It is a walled city with narrow, twisting streets and alleys. It originally was known as Assisium. Successively Umbrian, Etruscan and Roman, it became a Ghibelline commune in the 11th century.

There were clashes with Guelph Perugia. In the battle of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles