Unesco Serial-site

In 2011 UNESCO included the serial site “The Longobards in Italy. Centres of power [568-774 AD]” which includes the most famous monuments of Longobard art, in the World Heritage List. In this way, it declared the absolute value, in the European context, of LONGOBARD CIVILISATION which left its effects in the Carolingian period, in the lasting presence of the Longobard aristocracy in the machinery of state, in the organisation of the Church and, autonomously, in the South of Italy (until 1076).

UNESCO recognises that Longobard civilisation made a decisive contribution:

  • to the continuity of Hellenistic-Roman and Early Christian cultures;
  • to the preservation and foundation of great monasteries and the relaunching of coenobies;
  • to religious cults that still survive, first and foremost the worship of Saint Michael the Archangel - the Longobard national saint - which spread from the cave Sanctuary on Gargano throughout Europe.

The picture is completed by the closeness of the Longobards to the Slav peoples and their traditions. This is exactly what Goethe had in mind when he wrote that one could start speaking of true European culture only from the moment when classical culture and traditions blended with Germanic and Slav traditions. Goethe did not make any reference – though he probably included them in his concept of classical culture – to the traditions of Byzantium and the Eastern Empire, which strongly marked Longobard development.

So it is with the Longobards that we can start to talk about EUROPE.

The series of artistic and monumental assets included by UNESCO in the World Heritage List is a striking example of the process of integration and interchange between the original North Germanic culture and the Roman-Byzantine counterpart combined with the contribution of Mediterranean cultures. Another original aspect of the series is the diversification of the various assets of which it is composed, distinguished from one another with relation to their meaning and the persons who had them built (kings, dukes, Longobard leaders). Lastly, the "serial site is the highest and most complete example of how the Longobard aristocracy monumentalized and diversified the expression of their power.

Declaration of Universal Value

UNESCO has therefore acknowledged and confirmed that "the serial site has an exceptional universal value as the highest expression of the fundamental historic function exerted by the Longobards in the crucial phase of transition between the Classic age and the Medieval world. A phase which modern historians consider a continuum characterized by the integration of different civilizations. The serial site exemplifies on one hand the specific nature of Longobard Culture against the background of the early Middle Ages; on the other hand it exemplifies the universal nature of the contribution made by this historic and cultural group to the formation of Medieval Europe. In fact, the Longobards played a leading role in the formation and diffusion of those significant traces - cultural, artistic, political and religious - which spread from Italy to Europe and anticipated the so-called renovatio, traditionally associated with the Carolingian period. The cultural heritage of the Longobards lives on in many aspects of art, of the laws and of Christian religion, as well as in other intangible aspects."

The UNESCO declaration - highlighting the universal value of Longobard Culture and of its contribution to European Culture and to the Christian world - reflects the whole evolutionary process of Longobard civilization.