Heritage properties:


The Site

The basilica of San Salvatore in Spoleto is an outstanding edifice designed using classical Roman style features. San Salvatore is an absolute masterpiece of religious architecture, an unique building from both a structural and an aesthetic point of view which is original due to the type and quality of the architectural sculpture as well as the reuse of spolia.


It bears also witness to an extraordinary use of old spolia with new architectural bearings and reliefs in imitation of the old ones and combined in an original and unprecedented unicum.
That’s why the very uniqueness of the Basilica of San Salvatore had been a magnet for great architects and artists since the Renaissance.

On the façade and inside, there are re-used spolia and sculpted ornament works of medieval craftsmen, realized in a spirit of emula­tion of classical style.

The building, which probably had funerary function originally, has a three-aisle basilica floor plan, with presby­tery divided into three parts, and central vaulted covering with octagonal base.

View of the city of Spoleto and the
Church of San Salvatore

One characte­ristic element on the interior, which has lost almost all of its pic­torial and stucco decorations, is the rich entablature with Doric frieze set on Doric columns in the nave and Corinthian columns in the presbytery.  Of the original rich decorations of the façade, alternated by pillars and divided into two orders by a cornice, which must have terminated with a triangular fronton, remain the window cornices and three portals with skillfully elaborate classi­cal motifs.

The Basilica is an early architectural evidence of the Longobard period which expressed the ideologies of the power élites and became a model for wide range religious architecture in the Middle Ages.

Columns’ frieze

San Salvatore façade
Its sculptural (architectural) apparatus – and above all the façade – had been one of the benchmarks for the romanesque style as well as for a number of architectural styles of the Renaissance and later centuries. The Longobard building is the original fruit of different trends combined: Roman-Hellenistic, Byzantine, Longobard, local. Therefore the Basilica of San Salvatore was the early incarnation of cultural pluralism, which was the hallmark of the Early Middle Ages in all its expressions and would become the underlying principle of medieval Europe.
From a religious point of view the Basilica is a relevant evidence of the Longobards’ conversion to Christianity and the exchange between immigrant power groups and the local religious authority, in that case monasticism of Eastern-Syrian origin. Moreover, San Salvatore emblematically expresses the character of the Longobards’ culture in Italy, particularly the leaning towards the use of local, eastern-monastic or roman traditions and workers to build unique products unmatched in later periods.