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The sanctuary of Santa Maria della Rotonda is located in the centre of Albano, within what was the enclosure of the Second Partic Legion military camp.

Santa Maria della Rotonda is one of the most interesting buildings in Albano Laziale and the church was begun from a nymphaeum covered with a dome of the villa of the emperor Domitian of the 1st century AD. Subsequently this building became part of the thermal baths of the imperial camp of Albano and was in use until the barbarian invasions.

In the seventh century, then, some Greek nuns placed an image of the Virgin in it and from that moment it became a Christian church. The official consecration as a church took place in 1060 when this church was run by the monks of the Abbey of Grottaferrata.

In 1316 a second consecration took place and the sanctuary was entrusted to various orders until in 1667 the cardinal bishop Pallotta carried out a seminar there and entrusted it to the Scolopi Fathers.

The building has a square plan on the outside and a circular plan on the inside, with four large semicircular niches at the corners of the outer perimeter. The roof is formed by a Roman dome pierced in the center while on the floor there are still fragments of a mosaic in black and white tesserae dating back to the original villa.

Inside the church we can recognize numerous stamped bricks, fragments of funerary reliefs and marble sarcophagi. You can also admire important frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries of the Roman school of Cavallini. Next to the church there is a magnificent Romanesque bell tower of the thirteenth century.

A special history links the citizens of Albano to the worship of the Madonna della Rotonda, in fact in Albano about 148 seismic shocks were recorded in 1829 which damaged many buildings. The inhabitants asked for help to the image of the Madonna preserved in the sanctuary and it was brought to the cathedral and solemnly crowned.

After the theft of the crown and other ex-votos, the image of the Madonna was again crowned in the cathedral in 1905.


Traveller's Guide to Italy