December 12, 2007

Cattolica di Stilo

The Cattolica of Stilo.
The Cattolica of Stilo.

The Cattolica di Stilo is a Byzantine church in the comune of Stilo, Calabria, southern Italy. It is a national monument.


The Cattolica was built in the 9th century, when Calabria was part of the Byzantine Empire. The name derives from the Greek word katholiki, which referred to the churches provided with a baptistery. It is one of the most important example of Byzantine architecture, together with the church of San Marco in Rossano Calabro.


The Cattolica follow a plan with "inscribed cross", typical of the middle Byzantine age. The interior is divided by four columns into five similar spaces. The square central space and the angle ones are covered by domes. The angle ones have with tambours with the same diameter, while the central dome is slightly taller and larger.

The western sides lies on a free rocks, while the southern area, ending with three apses, stands on three stone bases. The construction is in bricks.

The interior was once entirely covered with frescoes. The left apse has a bell built in 1577, when the church was converted to the Latin rite. The interior has also several inscriptions in Arabic, which have led the scholars suspect it could have been also used as a Muslim oratory.

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