Monte Territory

Part of the town of Monte Sant’Angelo (province of Foggia, Puglia region) that contains the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo

Monte Sant’Angelo is the highest-altitude town on the Gargano promontory, a typical ridge-top settlement. It is arranged in steps on the hillside, a mountain crest that gives a splendid panoramic view down to the sea. Numerous streets take the form of wide staircases made of large, roughly-worked stone blocks.

Monte Sant’Angelo’s origins are closely tied to the presence of the sanctuary and the tradition of pilgrimage linked to the cult of San Michele. From the 7th century onwards this became an established practice here in the Gargano, gradually spreading during the medieval period to other European countries.  The names of Queen Ansa, King Romuald II and King Gisulf II, repeatedly found on the sanctuary walls, demonstrate the Lombards’ special ties with St Michael: they were the warrior saint’s most faithful and enthusiastic devotees and spread his cult throughout Europe. An important port of call on the Via Sacra Langobardorum that took pilgrims from north-central Europe to the Holy Land, the Gargano cave was the paragon of a medieval sanctuary.

Not far from the religious building, a second monumental site grew up on Monte Sant’Angelo, composed of three buildings: the churches of San Pietro, of which only the apse and the remains of previous structures may be seen today, and Santa Maria Maggiore (plus the baptistery of San Giovanni in Tumba), together with the castle complex that dominates the town. The earliest core of the latter is recorded from the Lombard period.

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