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Vibo Valentia


Antique Greek colony known as Hipponion, situated in a strategic location of the Mediterranean sea, with a perfect overview from Capo Palinuro in Campania to the Aeolian Islands in Sicily, Vibo Valentia inherited its name of Valentia, when the city was conquered by the Romans.

At the decline of the Roman Empire, the city was surrounded with fortified strongholds and walls by the Byzantines, but during the various raids of the Saracens, the city was destroyed. The rebuilding took place under the dominion of the Emperor Federico II of Hohenstaufen, who gave to the city a new name "Monteleone di Calabria" (name that was changed again to Valentia only in 1928).

On the Northern side of the city rises the Norman-Suebi castle, today seat of one of the most important Archeological Museums of Calabria, where it is possible to admire one of the five gold leaf pages which evidence the religious beliefs and practice in the Ancient Greece (Orphism). This specific one has engraved the precise instructions to reach a place of bliss. The Castle constructed under Ruggiero the Norman with building material from the Greek temples of the acropolis of Hipponion, was edified to protect the port area of Bivona from the pirate raids. The manor over the centuries was enlarged by the Anjou. Seriously damaged by the earthquake in 1783, it was used as a prison by the Borboni, before being refurbished to host the Archeological Museum.

Of major interest: the Greek and Roman traces evidenced by the Greek walls (VI-V century b.C.), ruins of a Doric temple (of the VI century b.C.) and the foundations of another two religious buildings, the rests of a Roman Thermal bath and some villas.

The Cathedral, in Baroque style, offers an important artistic impact and was built in '600 on the ruins of an antique Byzantine basilica of the IX century. The interior is decorated with plasters and preserves a marble group sculpture of the Madonna della Neve ('500) and an altar refurbished in 1811 with rare marbles from the ciborium of Serra San Bruno and a beautiful Cross ('500).

Not to miss: a visit to the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, with a wonderful wooden Cross; the Church of San Michele, a rare example of Renaissance architecture in Southern Italy; the Church of Spirito Santo, built in 1579 and the Church Santa Maria la Nova, that preserves the tomb of Ettore Pignatelli and a precious engraved marble of the artist Gagini.


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