Several ancient peoples passed through Calabria and all left a little of their heritage. No wonder, Calabria is a region rich historically and culturally. Today we are going to visit a very special place called Santa Severina, which brings together the history and culture of some awesome ancient peoples. So, let’s do it! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? Looking for a hotel? Click here and discover best accommodation options in Calabria!
A little more about Santa Severina
The town of Santa Severina, in the province of Crotone, stands on a limestone rock overlooking the valley of the Neto River, located halfway between the coast of the Ionian Sea and the green plateau of Sila, offering the visitor the opportunity to move easily between the sea and the mountains. The beauty, charm and traditions of this village have always attracted tourist interest. It is believed to have been founded by the ancient peoples of Enotri, an Italic people who lived in the area before the Greek colonization, formerly known by them by the Greek name of Siberene until the arrival of the Byzantines, who changed their name to Severiana, determining the place as an important center, especially in the religious sphere. What Are The Ten Places You Must See In Calabria?
1) Santa Severina in Calabria: VISIT THE CATHEDRAL AND THE NORMAN CASTLE
The Cathedral, to the north, and the Norman castle, to the south, are the two most important architectural works of the ‘Campo’, name by the inhabitants of Santa Severina call the square itself, due to its historical use as a military parade ground.
Santa Severina Castle
The castle overlooks the splendid main Square of Santa Severina and the Neto Valley which, with its two towers and its powerful walls, is a military work of the most complex and beautiful of Calabria. Its construction is attributed to Normand Roberto Guiscardo (sec. XI), and today the castle houses a museum that displays the results of the excavations, archaeological collections and materials coming from neighboring territories.
The most important religious building in the historic center of the city of Santa Severina, practically opposite the Norman castle, is the Cathedral. United in a single block to the Byzantine Baptistery, the Cathedral of Santa Severina was built between 1274 and 1295 at the behest of Bishop Ruggero di Stafanunzia and consecrated to St. Anastasia. After several reconstructions followed by earthquakes and robbing, from the old church remains only the arched door, while the rest is part of the renovation of the sacred building of the archbishop Carlo Berlingeri, at the end of the seventeenth century.
In the Cathedral of Santa Severina are preserved ostensories, chalices and liturgical vestments decorated with gold, the silver arm with the relic of St. Anastasia, donated by Robert Guiscardo to the archbishop of the time, and a statue of the holy matron in silver with gold crown under the left arm and the gold reproduction of the village of Santa Severina. A treasury of art, history and different cultures is preserved in the Baptistery of Santa Severina.
The discovery and the first studies of this extraordinary monument was due to the great archaeologist Paolo Orsi, who was the first one, in 1911, to observe its importance and singularity, signaling to the professors of art that this was one of the most significant Byzantine monuments of Calabria. There are no reliable sources on the origin and the period of construction of this unique monument of a Greek cross, but according to the results of the restoration, the construction of the Baptistery probably dates back to the VII-VIII centuries. In any case, it is the only Byzantine monument, at least in Italy, with a circular plan with four protruding arms along the main axes, to form a Greek cross that dates back to the tenth century.
The Baptistery is a remarkable testimony of the Byzantine past of Santa Severina. Only the Catholic of Stilo offers, in Calabria, an example of a similar monument before this period. The site is accessed by a cathedral door, and has an umbrella-shaped dome, supported by eight columns of the area’s oldest buildings. In the center there is the baptismal font, while the walls are remains of Byzantine frescoes dating from the X-XII centuries.
2) Santa Severina in Calabria: VISIT THE POZZOLEO CHURCH
Another jewel of this interesting city is the Pozzoleo Church, overlooking the Greece neighborhood, which was the most populous of the six districts in the ancient city. It is considered the last splendor of Byzantine civilization in 12th-century Calabria, dating back to the Norman period, but retaining its Byzantine forms – memories of a time and culture that marked Santa Severina very deeply. Of particular value is the dome, above the church.
3) Santa Severina in Calabria: VISIT THE CHURCH OF SORROWS
Continuing our journey through this picturesque village, we find the Church of the pre-Norman era, with a remarkable baroque altar from the seventeenth century. This religious building is one of the rare examples of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Byzantine in the world. Today, however, the church presents itself in rather precarious conditions of information.
After a trip through its monuments, we recall that Santa Severina was called ‘the country of oranges’, by the citrus groves that surrounded it, and, as some elders remember, the delicate aroma of the flowers visiting downtown in the springtime. Oranges in the past represented the main source of income for the inhabitants of Santa Severina, due to their high quality. Santa Severina is a journey through history: Byzantines, Norman and Aragonese who accompany you through time, as a history book to navigate through the main monuments. Small, quaint and very interesting. We just have to provide some information on how to get to this charming ‘citadel’.
4) Santa Severina in Calabria: VISIT THE DIOCESAN MUSEUM
It is interesting to spend time on a considerable treasure of cultural and artistic wealth. I refer to the Diocesan Museum, where we find the silver arm with a relic of St. Anastasia (matron of the town), donated by Roberto Guiscardo. The museum houses a large number of valuable sacred objects, paintings and sculptures in wood. It is organized around three themes: Places, Objects and Documents. In the ‘Places’ section are treated the religious buildings that testify to the history of Christianity: catacombs, basilicas, baptisteries, Byzantine churches, monasteries structures and post-Tridentate cathedrals.
In the section ‘Objects’, divided into three rooms, are presented objects of worship, vestments, episcopal insignia, shrines and ostensories. In the ‘Documents’ section, liturgical books and fundamental texts of catechesis are explained and exposed. The museum has a purely didactic bias and is therefore a unique opportunity to learn through the direct observation of artifacts an interesting part of the history of the Church.
How to get to Santa Severina?
1) How to get to Santa Severina? BY PLANE
2) How to get to Santa Severina? BY TRAIN
Crotone or Lamezia Terme Station.
3) How to get to Santa Severina? BY CAR
- Highway Salerno – Reggio Calabria: take the exit at Sibari and then Coast 106, direction Crotone-Reggio. From Calabria to Isola Capo Rizzuto – is the recommended route;
- Highway Salerno – Reggio Calabria: with departure from Cosenza North, continue along the Sila highway, through the stunning landscapes to Crotone and then, on the SS106, a few kilometers in the direction of Reggio Calabria (2 hours from the exit of the highway)
- Highway Salerno – Reggio Calabria: take the exit at Lamezia Terme, follow the road signs to Catanzaro and take the first exit on the right to Catanzaro Lido, then take the 106 Seaside to exit at Crotone.
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IMPORTANT TO KNOW!
Remember that to drive in Italy it is MANDATORY to have the International Driving License, the famous IDP (International Driving Permit). The certificate is not issued in Italian, but it is accepted in English! The IDP lasts 180 days (it depends where you live) and is issued by the Traffic Department of your country (if you have the European Driver License, you don’t need to worry about it!).
- Check with your country’s Traffic Department which documents are required and the rates for issuing the IDP. If you chose to travel by car, be sure to read our Post “Driving in Italy“. It is very important to avoid winning fines for lack of information.
Santa Severina in Calabria. With different ancient people influences, Santa Severina brings together a rich territorial history. Today we will get to know this beautiful city in Calabria better.
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