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CHURCH VISIT #1: Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Assisi, Italy?



Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Assisi, Italy?
As you approach the town of Assisi, the first thing that greets you from afar is the basilica perched atop a hill. It is a long beige structure lined with countless arches that support it from below. There are actually two churches: the Upper Basilica and the Lower Basilica, built on top of each other in the early 13th century. Interestingly, their designs differ from each other, the lower being Romanesque in style and the upper with elements of early Gothic, which established many characteristics of this particular type of design.
We stopped before heading up to the village to take some selfies.The long row of arches makes it look like a fortress.The green and picturesque Umbrian landscape below the hill where the basilica stands.The high altar of the lower church.View at night when everyone had already left.We drove up the hill where the winding road led to the adjacent village and ended up in a multi-storey underground car park that was built to accommodate the many cars and tour buses that arrived daily as the Franciscan basilica is an important pilgrimage site. The houses abutted closely to the church and it was a seamless beige landscape that stretched throughout the center of town, whose atmosphere and architecture gave the feeling of being in the Middle Ages.
Priests preparing for a short procession just before sunset. You pass through this wide esplanade to reach the entrance to the Basilica.top of the multi-level car park next to the entrance.the narrow road leading to the town centre is lined with souvenir shops and restaurants.a green lawn separates the church from the houses in the old town. St. Francis mounted on his horse with his head bowed after hearing the voice of God telling him to leave the war and return home.Both churches had walls filled with frescoes, many by Giotto and others by lesser-known painters. What struck me most was the deep blue color of the ceiling, with thousands of golden stars that seemed to represent the sky.
While the upper level was tall, light and airy, with high arches, the lower level was the opposite, with heavy barrel vaults forming the intricate ribbed ceiling. It was forbidden to take photos and they were quite strict about it but somehow I managed to shoot a few – no flash, of course – as the guards were busy when there was a commotion because a tourist fainted.What luck!
Medieval atmosphere of the old town.The basilica overlooking the countryside.The convent courtyard behind the church with an old well in the center.The colorful murals on the ceiling of the lower basilica.Before I left, I took this wide panoramic photo showing the entire town of Assisi at the top of the hill. Further down, they built a crypt where the remains of St. Francis were buried and we were able to attend Mass there (the wife insisted on it), which was celebrated in Latin.
The only thing I remember is the heavy incense wafting in the air throughout the ceremony, because my mind wandered outside thinking about the glorious sunset photo I had just missed.
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Read also: Travel Guide: Caleruega Church in Nasugbu, Batangas
About the author.
Al Fr. Manlangit is a Kuwait-based Filipino architect who loves to travel and take photos whenever he gets the chance to do so. The genres he explores are landscape, architecture and street photography, which he finds useful wherever he goes. He has a blog on designerq8.com where he focuses on interesting places he has visited with short stories he tells behind each frame.



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