On Saturday 25th June 2011 the Serial Site “Longobards in Italy. Places of the power (568-774 AD)” was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
This is the 46th Italian site to be inserted in the famous list, confirming Italy’s leading position in it.
The Serial Site “Longobards in Italy. Places of the power (568-774 AD)” which, as well as Brescia, includes Cividale del Friuli, Torba-Castelseprio, Campello sul Clitunno, Spoleto, Benevento and Monte Sant'Angelo, groups together the most important Longobard monumental remains to be found on Italian soil, spread over the peninsular from north to south in correspondence to the location of the major Longobard dukedoms.
Each of the properties that was (after a meticulous selection process) included in the site was chosen, out of the numerous such monuments in the country, as the most significant or well-preserved representative of its particular type. Together they embody the universal qualities of Longobard culture at the time of its peak.
They thus exemplify the epitome of the artistic and architectural inheritance of the gens Langobardorum which, as is well known, only expressed itself in monumental constructions after settling in Italy, following a lengthy migration that started in Scandinavia and crossed the lands north-east Europe.
Until now theLongobard period has been missing from the World Heritage List; this new inscription therefore fulfils the requirement that the list should be representative of all cultures and all civilizations. Moreover, the fact that this is not a single site, but a network, constitutes an important innovation.
Of the Longobard sites in the World Heritage List, Brescia boasts the most extensive, which is made up of the San Salvatore - Santa Giulia monastic complex and the Capitolium archaeological area. Its inclusion was expressly recommended by ICOMOS (International Council of Monuments and Sites) during a revision of the candidature (presented in January 2008) prior to implementation.
The complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia, housing the "Museo della città", is an extraordinary architectural palimpsest that incorporates the female convent built in 753 by Duke Desiderio of Brescia, before he was crowned king.
The church of San Salvatore is one of the most important evidences of late Longobard architecture; the building, with triple apse transept, has three naves with a series of columns and capitals, some re-used from the classical era and from Byzantium, others made for this purpose. The stucco and fresco decorations, along with those of the "Cividale Tempietto", are one of the richest and best preserved collections of the early Middle Ages.
The monastery, which had service structures for the pilgrims reception and the poor housing, spread westward with houses, burial places, and productive plants. Traces of these buildings can still to be seen in the nearby archaeological area, superimposed or included among the remains of Roman worship buildings, the 1st century AD Capitoline Temple and the Roman Theatre.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) encourages countries to guarantee the protection of their natural and cultural heritage. The World Heritage List encompasses those sites considered to possess important universal value; before the 35th Committee session the total number of sites was 911 throughout the world, of which 45 in Italy. The first Italian site to be included in the WHL, in 1979, features rock engravings in Brescian territory.