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Church of Assunta


Church of Assunta


The church was built between 1662 and 1664 and consecrated the year after by Cardinal Flavio Chigi in the presence of Pope Alexander VII, who was the patron of the project. Together with Chigi Palace, it can be considered the most important part of Bernini’s project for Piazza di Corte.

The church is based on a circular plan, and it consists of a pronaos with three arches supporting a tympanum where the papal crest can be seen; the structure supports a large dome with lantern and no tholobate (dome pedestal). Apart from the Roman Pantheon, the other important architectural reference for the Church of the Assumption is to the St. Peter Basilica, with its surrounding exedra-shaped colonnade and its propylaea-looking paired pillars.

Even though the church and its immediate surroundings convey a sense of openness and unfinishedness, it can be considered a masterpiece of mid-17th-century classicism-baroque.

The interior is a brilliant example of Bernini’s bel compost (the beautiful whole), the balanced coming together of the arts: here indeed, architecture, sculpture, painting and decorative arts aim to provide the beholder a unified and harmonious vision.

As visitors enter, they will find an apsis with three chapels – one for each of its sides – that construct an elegant yet scenographic space. The internal dome consists of an octagonal coffered ceiling decorated with stucchi (stucco) produced by Paolo Naldini based on a project by Bernini. The apsis hosts a fresco depicting the Assumption of Mary by Guillaume Courtois (Italianised Guglielmo Cortese) also called Il Borgognone (the Burgundian). The fresco balances horizontal and vertical volumes and movements, thus embracing the Berninian concept of bel composto. The paintings of the altars were commissioned to some of the major artists present in Rome at the time: Raffaele Tannini, Saint Thomas of Villanova, Ludovico Gimignani, The Holy Family; Giacinto Gimignani, Saint Antony of Padua, Emilio Taruffi, Saint Francis of Sales, Bernardino Mei, The Holy Trinity with Saint Augustine, Alessandro Mattie, Saint Roch.

The church hosts also an early Christian baptismal font that used to be in the ancient basilica of the Assumption and dates to the 4th century CE.

Prepared by

Compilato da Saverio Capozzi sulla base di materiale fornito da: arch. Francesco Petrucci; © Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF)

Chiesa dell'Assunta, facciata © MWNF

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