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Castelseprio

Historic Sites
Castelseprio was the site of a Roman fort in antiquity, and a significant Lombard town in the early Middle Ages, before being destroyed and abandoned in 1287. It is today preserved as an archaeological park in the modern comune of Castelseprio, near the modern village of the same name. It is in the north of Italy, in the Province of Varese, about 50 km northwest of Milan.The fame of Castelseprio lies in the Early Medieval frescoes contained in the small Church of Santa Maria foris portas . These frescoes are of exceptional rarity and artistic significance. Hidden for centuries, the frescoes were only rediscovered in 1944. In 2011, the church - and the castrum with the Torba Tower - became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a group of seven inscribed as Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568-774 A.D.). In 2006, the Italian Ministry of Culture in a submission to UNESCO, said:HistoryCastelseprio originated as a Roman fort that commanded an important crossroad. During the early Middle Ages, the Lombards occupied the Roman fort, turning it into a fortified citadel or small town. At one point coins were minted there - a sign of its importance. The Church of Santa Maria foris portas ("foris portas" meaning "outside the gates" in Latin) which contains the famous frescoes, lay just outside the walls of the citadel. The early dedication of the church to Mary is an assumption; the first documented mention of a church dedicated to Mary in Castelseprio (which is assumed to be this one) comes from the 13th century.
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