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Chiesa di Sant'Angelo

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When I was in Perugia in September, I spent a few hours in and around the Chiesa di Sant'Angelo, a very cool little church that is believed to be one of the oldest in Perugia. It was built in the 5th century, likely on top of the remains of a Roman temple, during the last days of paganism.

The early Christian church of Sant'Angelo is also called the Tempio di San Michele Arcangelo.
According to BellaUmbria, it has typically Roman characteristics. The two inner areas, the ambulatory and the central presbytery, are separated by a circle of sixteen Corinthian-Roman columns.

Given their variety of measures and materials, they were probably carried into the church from another building, as was customary at the time. The two adjacent chapels at the church's external sides give it a Greek cross layout.

I took the above photo of Sant'Angelo from high atop the adjacent Porta Sant'Angelo, the largest of Perugia's medieval gates which was re-built in 1326. Its tower has been beautifully restored (more recently, of course) and now houses the Museo delle Mura e delle Porte di Perugia -- the city's museum of historic walls and doors. Etruscan and medieval models, that is, and pretty interesting. That's it, in my photo below. The viewing area is at the very top of the tower.

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This museum gives a fascinating look at the history of the city, and from the top of the tower, the views are fantastic!

Still, I'm especially partial to the round Chiesa di Sant'Angelo down below and on this trip, was able to finally get inside for a good look around.

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I like this description of the unusual church, from BellaUmbria:

"Those who love mystery and go to Perugia cannot but visit this church. In effect, there are very strange symbols inside. On the doorjambs and on the neck of the Virgin Mary depicted in on of the frescoes some crosses representing the mystic universe of the Templars, a medieval religious confraternity whose legendary history is full of secrets and enigmas.

"Moreover, at a few metres from the entrance there is a pentagram, namely a symbol linked to the worship of Venus associated to black magic in the Middle Ages."

Fascinating.

Comments (11)

Oh that was aa beautiful read! Loved the pictures :too. ;)

How did I ever miss this amazing church and especially the tower! Please remind me of this the next time I go back to Perugia. Great photos!!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, great post and it's so interesting to read about the history of Chiesa di Sant'Angelo. I'm glad that you were able to get inside during your trip.

Thank you for sharing your photos and more of your experiences in Perugia. Have a great weekend!

I love mysterious churches with Christianity layered over paganism and with symbols that might indicate some overlap between the two. This one is very cool - great post!

Hope you're having a nice weekend!

sandrac:

Thanks, Leslie -- I think it's the first round church I have ever visited!

Girasoli, it's quite a ways outside the centre -- I found it by accident last year (typical; I was lost!) Valda and Saint Bambi had raved about it in their Perusing Perugia notes, so I was glad to find it.

Thanks Kathy -- I hope you're also having a great, last weekend before your trip to Spain. Can't wait to see your posts from there!

Annie, I also find the interplay between Christianity and paganism fascinating.

How I enjoyed this entry! I was NOT familiar with this church, Sandra, so will most certainly put it on my list of art treasures to check out.
Mary

sandrac:

Mary, I think you would find it very, very intriguing! There is a small amount of interesting art inside, but I found the structure itself and its history the most fascinating element.

Anne:

Oh that sounds so magical! I am SO making plans to spend time in Perugia someday. Did you see the article in this month's National Geo. Traveler on Perugia?

sandrac:

Anne, I haven't seen the latest issue, but I'm going to look for it -- thanks for the tip!

Gianni:

Sandra, you captured the essence of this wonderfully spiritual place beautifully. I (we) discovered Sant'Angelo by accident in 1974.

As two young students at the Universita' per Stranieri, we met and fell in love. One day, on our regular "discovery" walks, we came upon the church.

Upon entering it, an all-encompassing feeling of peacefullness and fullfilment came over both of us, as if we had finally reunited after centuries.

To both our regret, our lives took separate paths after returning home from Italy. We each married the "wrong" person and had failed relationships.

In 2008, we reconnected and were able to pick up where we had left off nearly 35 years earlier. In May of 2010 we plan on returning to Perugia to finally do what we should have done then...and it will be inside the mysteriously wonderful walls of Sant'Angelo.

sandrac:

Gianni, what a beautiful story. Sant'Angelo really is a quite remarkable place that attracts interesting stories!

The first time I saw it, I also came upon it by accident (altho it was on my list of churches in Perugia I wanted to see!) Now, I love it.

In fact, I'm also planning to visit Perugia again in 2010 -- I didn't get there when I was in Umbria in June and I sorely miss it.

The very best of luck with all of your plans for the future, and thanks so much for stopping by!

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