The monuments on the UNESCO site are those recognized as the most significant embodiment of the new and distinct artistic and architectural culture developed by the Longobards.
Although almost entirely lacking in architectural traditions and familiarity with the materials used for building in stone, on Italian soil the Longobards acquired their own characteristic mode of construction which spread to all the duchies of the realm, although styles and purposes varied according to which member of the elite (king, duke or other noble) commissioned the work.
These buildings are not, then, homogeneous in kind, but various in their forms and functions: an entire small town (Cividale), a fortified settlement (Castelseprio), a monastic complex of royal foundation (Brescia), religious buildings erected by the local elites (Spoleto, Campello), a votive chapel (Benevento) and the national sanctuary of the Longobard people (Mount Sant’Angelo).
All the monumental sites share the intentional, ideological use made of architectural components salvaged from Roman buildings and reutilized in positions that emphasized their symbolic value, in perfect harmony with purpose-made items – themselves of refined aspect and evidence of the existence of high-quality workshops. These constructions are therefore examples of the synthesis the Longobards achieved by combining architectural and cultural models of Classical culture, especially Greco-Roman, with those of Byzantine-Christian civilization.
The new artistic and architectural tendencies which the Longobards fostered, together with the contributions of artists and craftsmen from the East who participated in the work, became the basis for the subsequent Carolingian “Renaissance” and the spread of the first “European” culture.