Get me to the church(es) on time!

Churches, abbeys, monasteries – whatever you call them – played a very important part in people’s lives through the ages. Whether used for a wedding, a funeral, a religious ceremony, meditation or even as a refuge in times of war, it stood out as a place of consolation and comfort. Up to this day people over the world love to visit places of worship. So, let us open the church doors and start our sacred journey.

Get me to the church in time, Ettal Monastry, Germany

Ettal Monastery, Germany

Located in Ettal, a village in Bavaria, Germany, this Abbey is one of the largest Benedictine houses, accommodating more than 50 monks. On 28 April 1330, Ettal Monastery was founded by the Duke of Bavaria. The marble statue of the Ettal Madonna on the high altar of the church, was the gift of the emperor for his institution.

Get me to the church in time, Ettal Monastry2, Germany

Here one of the main concerns of a Benedictine Abbey becomes true: An independent religious community where everything needed to survive, is generated. The monks mainly keep up the buildings themselves, by enterprises such as the making of liqueur, a brewery, a publishing house and a hotel.

Get me to the church in time, Ettal Monastry, Germany

Wieskirche, Germany

The Wieskirche is a beautiful oval-shaped Rococo style church, literally a gem in the middle of the meadow. It was designed by Dominikus Zimmermann and built in the middle of the 18th century. It is located in the lower hills of the Alps in the hamlet of Steingaden in Bavaria. The legend has it that it was built after tears were evidently seen coming from a wooden statue of the Scourged Christ. A real miracle, it was claimed. Thus built for pilgrims, not local converts, the small chapel soon became too crowded. A separate shrine was commissioned and erected. There are people who believe that diseases will be cured if you pray in front of the statue of Jesus. The glow of the church’s interior is unique and impressive. Visitors are delighted by the clever interaction of murals, carvings, light and colour – a real feast for the eye.

Get me to the church in time, Wieskirche, Germany

Parish Church of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

The community of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the heart of the Alps in Northern Italy, is very proud of this parish church in sober baroque style. The bell tower had a few setbacks as years went by and the big bell broke and cracked several times. Consequently the tower’s height was lowered and 6 new bells fixed to the tower. They chimed for the first time on Christmas Eve of 1858. Through the years the church became run down and dilapidated, but about ten years ago its beauty was restored to its ancient splendour. The present organ is the fifth one. Built by the Mauracher firm of Linz, it has three manuals and a pedal board with 30 electrically transmitted notes and it still produces beautiful organ music.

Get me to the church in time, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Duomo Como, Italy

Como’s cathedral was designed by Lorenzo degli Spazzi. In 1396 they started building this cathedral on the ruins of the Romanesque basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. It took three and half centuries (yes, centuries!) to complete the building, which resulted in a balanced blend of different styles. There are stained glass windows, tapestries and paintings to see inside and the circular stained glass rose window looks stunning when light from outside penetrates each frame.

Get me to the church in time, Duomo Como2, Italy

The dome was designed by Filippo Juvarra, architect of the king of Sardinia and the two organs date back to the seventeenth century. Two lions from the 12th century reign over the holy water.

Get me to the church in time, Duomo Como, Italy

San Fidele, Italy

Basilica San Fidele in Como is located in the city centre on the site of the old corn market on the piazza. It descended from an earlier Christian church, dedicated to Saint Euphemia who was martyred for her faith in 303 AD. The present church dates from 1120. The building is in Romanesque style, an architectural style of medieval Europe, symbolised by semi-circular arches. The neo-Romanesque facade of San Fidele, rebuilt from scratch in 1914, has a beautiful central rose window and a unique octogonal dome. Probably built at the same time as the basilica, the bell tower collapsed in the earthquake of 1117. However, it was rebuilt in 1271. It slanted over the years, so it was partly demolished in 1905 and then rebuilt. Inside the Basilica are four paintings showing scenes from the Passion of Jesus painted by Carlo Carlone. The music you hear comes from a pipe organ built in 1941.

Get me to the church in time, San Fidele, Como, Italy

San Giacomo, Italy

This Romanesque church, the Basilica di San Giacomo in central Bellagio, was built in the 12th century by master builders from Como. Later it was further developed in the baroque style. Interestingly the popularity and success of the baroque style was encouraged by the Catholic Church. They decided that the arts should convey religious themes with direct and touching involvement. The church consists of three aisles with a bell tower built on the left side of the fasade. The bell tower was originally a tower for the defending of the city walls in the northern part of the village. On the inside there is sanctified furniture of significant importance, like the gilded main altar in carved wood, dating back to the late 1700’s.

Get me to the church in time, San Giacomo, Bellagio, Italy

Santa Maria Assunta, Italy

Santa Maria Assunta is often described as the pearl of Lake Orta -a precious, medieval jewel. The church, one of the most beautiful in the Italian Lakes District, is often photographed by Vogue and other significant bridal magazines. The view from the main entrance on old Orta San Giulio village, the Island and the Alps, is spectacular. Getting married here, is every girl’s paramount dream. Orta’s narrow car free roads lead to the main square where you can admire the town in all its beauty. From there a small cobble stone road leads you to the charming Santa Maria Assunta Church. The church’s facade is colourful and its interior precious and rich with wide 1700 frescoes and golden details. Nicolao Monti designed the church for the Community of Orta to commemorate the plague of 1485. Well worth a visit!

Get me to the church in time, Santa Maria Assunta, Orta, Italy

Santa Caterina del Sasso, Italy

One of the most charming sights of Lago Maggiore, is Santa Caterina del Sasso. This Roman Catholic convent was built on the rocky ridge right over the azure blue waters, way back in the 12th century. The first chapel was cut into a rock by the Blessed Alberto, and dedicated to Saint Catherine of Egypt. You enter the church through an entry way consisting of four rounded, renaissance style arches. The construction of the existing building is really distinctive: the combination of three chapels, originally built individually in three different periods. There are numerous symbolic sequences both inside and outside the church. History and art come together perfectly against the stunning backdrop of this beautiful lake and the Islands.

Get me to the church in time, Santa Catherina del Sasso, Lake Maggiore, Italy

There are several ways to reach the cathedral. You can descend the 268 step staircase from the square above, while enjoying the stunning scenery. You also can go by boat and climb the 80 steps up from the lake. Or you can take the quick and easy way and use of the elevator in the rock. Never mind how you got there, Santa Caterina del Sasso, hanging on to a cliff looming over Lake Maggiore, is a sight to behold!

Celine Renaud is Head of Sales for Leo Trippi.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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