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Assisi, the Basilica of San Francesco and Other Franciscan Sites
Assisi, full of sunlight, stretches out on the slopes of the Monte Subasio, above the plain where the Topino and Chiascio rivers flow. At 424 m asl, with its dry climate and its extraordinary peaceful surroundings, it is the ideal place for rest and relaxation. It is also an international tourist town of great cultural and rural interest.
Although it can boast Roman origins, its present-day appearance, because of the buildings and also the urban structure is surely due to the city's development during the Middle Ages. Assisi's oldest nucleus, which is protected by a defensive apparatus made up of eight fortified entrance portals and a long belt of town walls, which are still perfectly preserved, is topped by two castles on peak of the mountain: the Major Castle and the Minor Castle.
At the end of the 12th century St. Francis and St. Chiara were born here and since then Assisi has become one of the most majestic destinations of Christian pilgrimage. The St. Francis Church was constructed in the Gothic style between 1257 and 1265. The St. Chiara Church is a little older and decorated with an elegant middle portal with three rose-windows. Another important building is the Cathedral, dedicated to the Patron Saint Rufino, with a splendid and unaltered facade decorated with sculptures and reliefs. On the Town Square situated on the ancient Forum, you will find the Priors' Palace (1337), the Palace of the People's Captain (12th century) and the temple of Minerva, built during the augustean period with pronaos, columms and corinthian capitals which are still intact.
Nearby, places which are connected with the life of St. Francis can be visited, sich as the Eremitage of the Prisons, immersed in a thick wood of oaks and ilex on the slopes of the Subasio Mountain, and the convent of St. Damian, which was built up around the oratory were, according to tradition, the Cross spoke to the Saint. Finally, in the plain, the impressive basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels was built according to the plans of Alessi between 1569 and 1679 to protect the Porziuncola Chapel, which was the first simple meeting-place of the Francescan brotherhood.
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