The Longobard “Temple” is one of the most complex and original buildings of the late Longobard period. Thanks to its ornate decoration it ranks among the most splendid and ambitious constructions commissioned in the 8th century.
The “Temple”, together with palatine church of San Giovanni, stood next to the Early Christian church of Santa Maria, which became the episcopal church in the late Longobard period. The episcopal complex, renovated by Patriarch Callistus, consisted of a group of buildings: the church, the baptistery of San Giovanni Battista and the Patriarch’s Palace. From the baptistery come two of the most important works of Longobard sculpture: the Tegurium of Callistus, an octagonal canopy which covered the baptismal font, and the Altar of Ratchis, the only Longobard artefact that depicts a biblical narrative theme.