If you’re in the Adriatic port city of Ancona, you can’t miss the San Ciriaco Cathedral, perched at a stunning outpost on the Guasco Hill. It is clearly visible from its position at the edge of town, and sports sweeping views over the bustling port traffic and the Gulf beyond.
It’s a hearty hike up the road (or stairs) leading up to that panoramic perch.
The cathedral was constructed on the site of a 4th century BC temple to Venus.
Reconstructions illustrate a spectacular Doric temple built by the Greeks who settled here. Those remains would eventually be incorporated into an early Christian church in the 6th century AD, one dedicated to San Lorenzo.
The current church was laid out between 996.-1017, and the remains of the Christian maryrs St Ciriaco and St Marcellino were accomodated in the new crypt, thereby converting the church into a cathedral.
San Ciriaco grew organically, always becoming more monumental. In the 13th century, the cathedral was expanded and Verona marble brought to create the exterior and the lions which now stand watch at the entrance. The cupola was created in the 1500s and the church tower grew out of the remains of a 13th centry military tower.
San Ciriaco is considered to be an impressive example of Romanesque architecture.
In 1926, Pope Pius XI elevated San Ciriaco to the status of basilica.
On 30 May 1999, San Ciriaco celebrated its millennial birthday with celebrations and a mass held by then Pope John Paul II.
Our visit coincided with a mass, so we couldn’t explore then interior beyond adniring it from the entrance, but we’ll be sure to return.
After you’ve explored the basilica, take some time up top to enjoy the views over the Gulf spread out below.