Before the 2009 earthquake, L’Aquila possessed a number of magnificent churches and other monuments. Unfortunately, some of these top 10 attractions were completely or partially destroyed in this event and were not accessible to the public due to danger of collapse.
Top 10 tourist attractions L’Aquila
01. Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio
The Basilica di Collemaggio is the most famous church in the region. Its white-pink facade has Gothic rose windows but a Romanesque entrance door. The basilica was consecrated in 1288 and six years later Pietro del Morrone was crowned Pope Celestine V there. Every year on 28 August, the La Perdonanza popular festival commemorating this event takes place. This founder of the Celestine monastic order is also buried here. (Piazzale di Collemaggio, tel +39 086226392).
02. Gran Sasso National Park
Many tourists visit L’Aquila not because of the city itself, but as a base for the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso, a famous and vast nature reserve.
03. Forto Spagnolo
The Forte Spagnolo (“Spanish Fortress”) was built 1528, after a failed revolution against the Spanish rulers. The architect was Pirro Luis Scrivà and the commissioner was Don Pedro de Toledo, the then viceroy of Naples. Today, the castle is home to the Museo Nazionale d’Abruzzo. Its collection mainly includes archaeological finds from the region, including the million-year-old mammoth skeleton found near the city in 1954. There is also a collection of reliquary art. (Castello Cinquecentesco, tel +39 08626331).
04. Piazza del Duomo
The Piazza del Duomo is located in the heart of the city’s historic center and is the best starting point for exploring the city. From here, Corso Vittorio Emanuele runs north and Corso Federico II south. The square hosts a fruit and vegetable market (except on Sundays).
The Duomo (“Cathedral”) stands in Piazza del Duomo. Built in the 13th century, this church has been damaged so often by earthquakes that it is fairly uninteresting for the average tourist.
06. San Bernardino Basilica
The Basilica of San Bernardino Basilica is characterised by a façade consisting of three parts and built in Renaissance style. However, the interior of this 15th-century church is Baroque. Saint Bernardino is buried in the church and his mausoleum is decorated with beautiful reliefs. (Piazza San Bernardino, +39 086222255).
07. Villa Comunale
The city park Villa Comunale is at the end of Corso Federico II.
08. Casa Museo Signorini Corsi
Located in the Palazzo Signorini Corsi, the Casa Museo Signorini Corsi is a small “house museum” with original furniture and a vast collection of religious art.
09. San Vito di Tornimparte Church
San Vito di Tornimparte Church is located opposite the city’s most famous fountain (see above). Its facade is graced by a number of symbols referring to the Templars.
10. Fontana delle 99 Cannelle
This “Fountain of the 99 Water Spouts” is located west of the city centre, near the Porta Riviera, one of the ancient city gates. The number refers to the founding of L’Aquila, when inhabitants were drawn from 99 surrounding villages for the new city.