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Marche: Temple of Valadier

A church, a cave, and a myriad of bats

The Sanctuary of the Madonna di Frasassi is found in the ranking of the most beautiful rock churches in our country and perhaps in the world. For those who live not far from here, spending a couple of hours here is definitely worth it.

Its peculiarity, in addition to the place where it was built, is the perspective from which this masterpiece can be admired. Behind this Sanctuary, there is a very deep cave where, with the help of a torch, you can reach the bottom completely immersed in the dark and cold, until you reach a kind of cave full of bats.

For me, it was a wonderful experience and I hope you too can experience it thanks to this post.

A bit of history...

Temple of Valadier

Also called the Temple of Valadier, this neoclassical church founded to honor the Virgin Mary, is formed by white blocks of travertine that form an octagonal structure and the roof made with lead plates. It was Pope Leo XII, originally from Genga, together with the architect Giuseppe Valadier, who decided to build the temple on top of the remains of an old, already existing church.

It was erected in 1828 here in the Gola di Frasassi, with the aim, as well as religious, of staying away from prying eyes. In fact, this sanctuary was an important refuge for the local population to escape looting during the Hungarian invasions in the 10th century. This protective function meant that the cave became a small city, also confirmed by the discovery of bones buried in the area and ancient buildings used for commerce, ovens and warehouses.

Thanks to the inscription on the facade Refugium Peccatorum, we have the testimony that it was subsequently a place of pilgrimage for sinners seeking absolution.

Today, this enchanted place hosts the living Nativity scene every year during Christmas, receiving the visit of thousands of people. If you're passing through right now, you can't miss it.

Hermitage of Santa Maria Infra Saxa

The old Oratory

Next to the Temple, on the left side of the Gola di Frasassi, we cannot fail to notice the Hermitage of Santa Maria Infra Saxa. This is also mentioned in ancient documents of the monastery of San Vittore from 1029, where there was talk of the existence of a monastery of Benedictine nuns called Monasterium S. Mariae Bucca sassorum.

Born as an oratory, the building was used as a cloistered monastery directed by the Benedictine nuns. It is characterized by a simple stone architecture, the interior of which is partly excavated and worked directly on the rock. It seems that a wooden image of the Madonna of uncertain origins was venerated in the hermitage, which was subjected to numerous attempts at theft. Accidentally burnt down in the 1940s, it was later replaced by the current one in stone.

How to get there

Located between Genga and Castelletta, if you come from Jesi you need to pass the entrance to the Frasassi Caves on the left, and shortly after you can see a sign that says "Living Nativity".

Park the car at Temple of Valadier parking (Google Maps ), go back to the foot of the road and take an uphill path of about 800 meters. The first section is the most tiring but passes quickly and after 10-15 minutes of walking you finally reach the entrance gate of this place of great spirituality.

The sanctuary is open every day and can be accessed without a reservation. If you come from afar, it is better to visit the Facebook page to avoid any closures due to work in progress.

Places of interest nearby

If you have a weekend available you can also visit:

Itinerary on the map:



Do you want some advice?

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