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Cistercian Abbey

Cistercian Abbey

This small town is not only attractive for its situation in the green heart of the Cimini hills, but also for the artistic and historical significance of its Abbey. Built at the end of the 13th century by the Cistercian monks of Pontigny, the building exercised a formative influence on the mediaeval architecture of the entire Viterbo area. The architecture has highly evolved gothic-Cistercian features. Standing next to the Abbey is the Doria Pamphilij Palace, a building that incorporates part of the former monastery (the Romanesque main door, for example). Built by Donna Olimpia Maidalchini-Pamphilij, sister-in-law of Pope Innocent X, the building was completely restored in 1652 with the assistance of a number of master artists including Bernini. Today, it serves as an elegant conference centre with a monumentally huge fireplace, a number of rooms with elaborate wooden ceilings and fresco friezes. Yet the point of major interest in San Martino is the mediaeval heart of the town itself. Upon the orders of Pope Innocent X, the streets were completely refurbished by Marcantonio de' Rossi according to the principles and standards of 17th-century town planning.


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