Considered one of the greatest temples of Christianity, the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi consists of a lower church, in which are preserved some relics of the saint and where there is the crypt that houses the remains, and a superior church where find the frescoes by great artists such as Giotto, Cimabue, Pietro Cavallini, Jacopo Torriti and Filippo Resuti.
The Basilica of San Francesco preserves and preserves the mortal remains of the patron saint of Italy since 1230. Built starting from 1228 by Pope Gregorio IX just like Francis’ shrine, it was awarded by the Church of the Order of the Franciscans, title that still retains today. In the complex history that marked the evolution of the Order, the basilica (and the adjoining Sacred Convent) was always guarded by the “friars of the community”, the group that later became the real Order of Friars Minor Conventual .
In the year 2000, together with other Franciscan sites in the district, the imposing religious building was included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The two churches that make up the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi are linked to two different phases of construction: the first is in Umbrian Romanesque style and the second in French Gothic style. The exterior surfaces are clad in Pietra del Subasio, a particular material that makes the building appear pink early in the morning and a brilliant white in the moonlight. The interior of both churches is instead entirely decorated with frescoes made starting in 1288 by some of the greatest painters of the period.
Each fresco was conceived in view of an integral decorative plan, aimed at the exaltation of the figure and the life of Saint Francis in its entirety. The extraordinary final result is due to the contribution of artists of the highest level such as Cimabue and Giotto, whose pictorial experiments in the Basilica of Assisi have favored the evolution of Italian and European art between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
The upper church of the Basilica of San Francesco, used for liturgical functions of an official nature, soon became a model and inspiration for all the Franciscan churches. Examples are the Basilica of Santa Chiara, also in Assisi, the Churches of San Francesco in Arezzo and Cortona, the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore in Naples. And even outside of Italy there are similarities, as in the Angers Cathedral in France.