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Religious Tourism

Faith, art, and history in a single itinerary
Urbino has a wealth of churches and oratories that together form an itinerary that reveals the city’s art and history.  Let’s take a look at the most important sites in this extraordinary heritage. The impressive Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta [cathedral] designed in the 15th century by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, was rebuilt in neo-classical style in the late 18th century by architect Giuseppe Valadier. The cathedral contains paintings, sculptures, and liturgical furnishings that are among the most significant examples of art from Urbino from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The apse chapels are authentic treasures, decorated with gilded stucco work and paintings by artists from the School of Federico Barocci, the artist who painted his absolute masterpiece, the Last Supper (1590-1599) for the Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento [chapel].
The Albani Museum will take you on a journey into the extraordinary artistic heritage of the Archdiocese of Urbino-Urbania-Sant’Angelo in Vado, and is named after one of Urbino's noble families, that of Pope Clement XI Albani (1700-1721).  The museum has played a large part in adding to the “Cathedral treasure”. Since 1964, the Palazzo Episcopale has been home to a museum collection that continues to grow and which now has a brand new layout. Inside, you will find a wide variety of ecclesiastical furnishings, dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries: illuminated manuscripts, chalices, and reliquaries in filigree and enamels, majolica, and porcelain, amber, gold and silver, crystal. There are also ivory croziers and liturgical vestments woven with precious metals, and painted panels and canvases.
The Oratorio della Grotta, an oratory divided into four chapels is now an integral part of the Albani Museum. The Cappella del Calvario in the oratory contains a group of sculptures, the  Compianto sul Cristo morto, dating back to the 16th century. It depicts the personal participation of worshippers in the experience of burial and is part of the tradition of holy representations that had been part of liturgical life in Christian communities since the Middle Ages. The third Chapel contains the extraordinary Pietà, commissioned as to decorate the tombstone of the last Duke of Urbino, Francesco Maria II Della Rovere, and where an extremely lifelike Christ seems to have just breathed his very last.
The Oratorio di S. Croce is an oratory dating back to the Confraternity of the Holy Cross, 1318. The building you see today is the result of numerous interventions and changes carried out over later centuries, especially during the central part of the 15th century and again during the 16th. Inside are two 15th-century frescoes, including a St Sebastian attributed to Urbino artist Giovanni Santi, father of the great Raphael. Extraordinary works of art and religious faith come from this exact location, and this is also thanks to the special bond between the Dukes of Urbino and this oratory. These include the bronze panel showing the Deposition from the Cross by sculptor and architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini, a gift from Federico di Montefeltro.
In the late 16th century, artists Federico Zuccari and Federico Barocci painted Christ at the Column (1605, now in the Albani Diocese Museum) and Ecce Homo (1612-1613, now in the Chiesa dell’Assunta church in Costamasnaga - CO, owned by the Pinacoteca di Brera). The Cappella della Sacra Spina is an integral part of the Oratory and it is decorated with extraordinary stucco work by modelers from Urbino in 1568.
The Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista was built on the site of an old hospital, presumably in the period between 1365 and the final decade of the 14th century. It contains one of the most important examples of late-gothic painting in Italy, a cycle of frescoes painted by the brothers Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni from Sanseverino in 1416. The oratory is richly decorated on all four of its walls, with a Crucifixion in the apse, and the Stories from the life of St John the Baptist in the nave. It also has a characteristic polychrome wooden roof, shaped like a ship’s hull.
The Chiesa di San Giuseppe [church] in via Barocci is now a Museum. It was built in 1515 and in the entrance chapel, it contains a life-sized Nativity Crib, commissioned by the Confraternity from Federico Brandani and completed in the period 1545-50. The modern-day church is the result of rebuilding work from the 17th century, at the wishes of the Albani family, whose illustrious members included cardinals Alessandro and Annibale, as well as Pope Clement XI (1700-1721). The church walls are decorated by four large canvases by Carlo Roncalli, which depict important episodes in the life of St Joseph. The magnificent light in Murano glass and the Vici organ are still used today for the International Early Music Festival, held every July for the last 53 years. Among the duties of the Confraternity, until the Unification of Italy, was assistance to prisoners who had been sentenced to death.
 The Oratorio della Morte is home to one of the most important works by Federico Barocci, Crucifixion and mourners, still displayed in the place where it was conceived. The church of this confraternity brought together the laypeople in charge of transporting the dead and therefore, of ensuring a good death, performing a service that other similar institutions did not.   The Chiesa di San Francesco di Paola was built in 1612 as a promise from the citizens of Urbino, who desired an heir for the last Duke of Urbino. It is the only church in Urbino to be richly decorated in baroque style, with statues and stucco reliefs by Marcello Sparti. The decorations are further enhanced by wall paintings that are the work of artists Antonio Viviani.
In 1708, the church became the headquarters of the Corpus Domini Confraternity, which continues to preserve it. Until 1866, the church contained two works by Titian, a Last Supper and a Resurrection, now displayed in the Ducal Palace, painted as the processional banner of the Confraternity.

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