The Eremo (“Hermitage”) delle Carceri is located about 5 kilometers from the center of Assisi, in the direction of Monte Subasio. The church built inside the gates of the Eremo contains some relics of St. Francis, who had retreated to this place to pray undisturbed. After visiting the Eremo, one can continue walking towards Monte Subasio to contemplate the magnificent panoramas.
Eremo delle Carceri Assisi
Address, opening hours and admission price
Address: Via Eremo delle Carceri – 06081 Assisi, Italy. Phone: +39 075812301. Opening hours: From Easter to November: From 06:30 to 18:30. The rest of the year the Eremo delle Carceri can be visited until 17.30. On Sundays and holidays, it opens 30 minutes later. Closed: Never. Entrance fee: Free. (Note: During the Covid crisis, opening hours may differ from what is indicated here).
The Eremo delle Carceri is located around 800 meters above sea leavel. The word carcere means “prison”. The complex is thus named because the followers of St. Francis allowed themselves to be locked in in order to devote themselves in Solitude and Silence to Meditation and Prayer.
When San Francesco first visited here, in 1205, there was only a small oratory. In the 15th century, San Bernardino da Siena had a monastery built next to it. This monastery was continually enlarged over the centuries. He also built the Santa Maria delle Carceri Church, which incorporated the ancient oratory.
Originally, before the Eremo even existed, the large numbers of caves in the area were used for silent meditation.
In 1215, probably at the same time as the Porziuncola, the Eremo was given to St. Francis by the Benedictines.
At the entrance is a statue depicting St. Francis himself in a pose that is meant to personify universal love. It was made by Sandro Da Verscio. The aura that surrounds the saint contains symbols of all the great religions of the world.
A walk through the forest takes one past the natural caves and chapels where pilgrims used to retreat in order to meditate.
Immediately after the bridge is the holm oak, traditionally seen as the tree where St. Francis blessed the birds. Since that time, the white doves have never left the Eremo.