Thursday, November 12, 2020


Altitude 329 m (1,080 feet). 19,000 inhabitants

Elegant residential area and resort town

The site was already fortified in ancient times

Abbazia Greca di Grottaferrata

Greek Abbey of Grottaferrata

Also known as Abbazia di S. Nilo (Abbey of St. Nile)

1004 by St. Nilus the Younger (about 910/1004) who founded the monastery on the ruins of a Roman villa and by St. Bartholomew the Younger (about 980/about 1050), a disciple of St. Nilus the Younger, who consecrated the church in 1024

The Cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere, future Pope Julius II (1503/13) abbot from 1472 until 1503, commissioned the construction of defensive walls designed by Giuliano Giamberti aka Giuliano da Sangallo (1445/1516) or Baccio Pontelli (about 1450/92)

The walls enclose two areas: in the first area there are the Palace of the Abbey and the typography, in the second there is the Basilica of St. Mary


Portico designed by Giuliano Giamberti aka Giuliano da Sangallo

Museum of the Abbey

Established in 1886

Medieval objects and objects found during excavations in the area and materials

Frescoes "Scenes from the life of Moses" of the thirteenth/fourteenth centuries detached from the church

Palace of the Commendatory Abbot

Hall of of the vault painted in grotesque style and the frieze painted in 1547 by Francesco da Siena (active in Rome the first half of the sixteenth century)


About 40,000 modern volumes, 1,197 manuscripts, rare codes of the eleventh century, texts of Byzantine music, "Cadamosto", a collection of journeys’ reports printed in the sixteenth century

Since 1931 there is a laboratory for the restoration of texts

Basilica of St. Mary

1024, transformed in 1754 and restored from 1902 until 1930

BELL TOWER and PORTAL of the twelfth century

Baptismal font in the portico of the eleventh or of the twelfth century

"Porta speciosa" eleventh or twelfth century with original wooden doors

"Rota porfiretica" of 2.45 m (8 feet) in diameter

Above the door mosaic "Deesis" maybe contemporary of the doors with "Christ, Our Lady, St. John the Baptist and small monk (maybe St. Bartholomew or Hegumen - equivalent Orthodox of abbot – who commissioned the work) in solemn dress"


Cosmatesque style of the twelfth or thirteenth century


Mosaics and frescoes of the twelfth or thirteenth century much restored: "Twelve Apostles and Pentecost", "Trinity", "Angels" and "Stories of Moses"

Machine for the iconostasis made in 1665 by Antonio Giorgetti (known since 1660/d. 1669) a pupil of Gian Lorenzo Bernini with "Byzantine Icon" (Theotokòs) of the early 1200s copy of the older Odighitria (true portrait of the Virgin Mary painted by St. Luke ) venerated in Constantinople in the Monastery of the Guides


"Early Christian Oratorio" with gratings, known as "Crypta ferrata" from which perhaps derives the name of the city, Grottaferrata

On the right FARNESIANA CHAPEL or CHAPEL OF St. NILUS THE YOUNGER rebuilt in 1608/10 for Cardinal Odoardo Farnese with altarpiece "Virgin Mary and Child with Sts. Nilus and Bartholomew" by Annibale Carracci (1560/1609)

On the left "Life of St. Nilus the Younger":

"Miracle of the Obsessed", "Meeting between St. Nilus and Emperor Otto III" with portraits of Odoardo Farnese, Domenichino, Guido Reni and Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, aka Guercino and "Miracle of the Crucifix"

On the right "Life of St. Bartholomew":

"The Virgin Mary giving a golden apple to the founding saints", "Construction of the Abbey and Miracle of the Column" with portrait of Annibale Carracci and "Miracle of the Harvest"

In the upper part "Fathers of the Eastern Church alternating with scenes from the Bible"

Early masterpiece by Domenico Zampieri aka Domenichino (1581/1641) who replaced Annibale Carracci and also made the stucco, the wooden ceiling, the marble floor and maybe even the architectural project

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