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Abruzzo earthquake: the artistic damage

All of L'Aquila's artistic heritage suffered serious damage in Monday's earthquake.

Culture Ministry Secretary-General Giuseppe Proietti said work could not be carried out until buildings were made secure after lessons learnt from a rescue operation following two strong earthquakes that struck on the same day in the Umbria and Marche regions in 1997.

The third floor of the castle that houses the National Museum of Abruzzo collapsed in Monday's quake.
Created in 1950, the Museum unified the collections of the civic and diocesan museums as well as a private collection of paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries and includes a beautifully preserved fossilised skeleton of a prehistoric elephant found near the town in the 1950s.


Among other buildings damaged in the quake was Abruzzo's largest Romanesque church, the 13th-century Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio, whose apse collapsed.

The Basilica, with its famed pink-and-white jewel-box façade, was the site of the coronation of Pope Celestine V in 1294 and thousands of pilgrims still flock there each year.

The cupola of the 17th-century Anime Sante church designed by Giuseppe Valadier and the bell tower of L'Aquila's largest Renaissance church, San Bernardino da Siena, were also down. The Porta Napoli, the oldest and most beautiful gate to the city, built in 1548 in honour of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, was destroyed in the quake. Some heritage sites in nearby towns were spared in the disaster, including the mountaintop fortress of Rocca Calascio, the highest fortress in Italy, which dates to the tenth century AD and has suffered damage in other quakes over the centuries.

by S. C.
09 april 2009, World News > Italy

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