The whole historic center is an open-air museum but it is precisely the Sansepolcro churches that best represent the idea of a “widespread museum”, enclosing within them a remarkable artistic heritage handed down to us over the centuries.

The Cathedral - San Giovanni Evangelista

The Cathedral, as it is commonly called, was built in Romanesque-Gothic style in the first half of the fourteenth century to replace the primitive Benedictine-Camaldolese abbey of the late tenth century.
The original project included a building with three naves, divided into ten bays and closed by a pentagonal apse, the remains of which are visible outside. Due to the economic crisis that shook Europe in the fourteenth century and the frequent earthquakes that occurred in Sansepolcro , the work was left unfinished. In 1520, after Pope Leo X, made Sansepolcro a bishopric, the abbey became a Cathedral and was dedicated to San Giovanni Evangelista, patron saint of the city and since then also of the Diocese. The influence of Baroque art in Tuscany, between 1500 and 1600, influenced the various changes made inside and outside the Cathedral. Between 1934 and 1943, on the initiative of the bishop Mons. Pompeo Ghezzi, radical restoration works were carried out which restored the original style to the Cathedral that we can still admire today. Almost all the baroque elements were destroyed and  the epigraphs, in this way it was possible to recover the original Romanesque-Gothic architecture and also some frescoes, hidden by the seventeenth and eighteenth century superstructures, dating back to the XIV-XV centuries. Also in that period was built the Chapel of the SS. Sacramento, in which the Holy Face was placed, already placed on the high altar.
On the majestic facade there are three portals: the central one with Lombard-type splay is  surmounted by a sumptuous rose window, the two lateral ones by single lancet windows. The gothic features of the façade blend harmoniously with the Romanesque elements of the gable roof and round arches. The central portal, in walnut wood, made by local workers in the early sixteenth century deserves attention.
Powerful columns divide the interior into three naves: the central one, wide and with a wooden trussed ceiling, the two smaller lateral ones, with vaulted ceilings. Despite the vertical thrust of the central nave, it is a Romanesque structure. The Cathedral houses inside a series of splendid works of art testifying to a faith that over the years has also expressed itself through the works of great artists.
Starting from the right side aisle, one can admire, kept in a niche, a fresco of the Romagna school depicting the Madonna enthroned with the Child (1385); on the first altar there is the Incredulità di San Tommaso, by the mannerist painter Santi di Tito (1536-1603); follows the fresco of the Crucifixion of Christ by Bartolomeo della Gatta (Pietro Dei, 1448-1502), an artist who was strongly influenced by the painting of Piero della Francesca, on the second altar there is the Adoration of the shepherds by Durante Alberti (1536-1623 ). The rich altar at the bottom of the right aisle dates back to the end of the seventeenth century (1682) and is the only remaining testimony in the Baroque style, after the restorations of the thirties of the twentieth century. The altar is evocatively illuminated by a small dome decorated in stucco, with the Glory of Christ in the center and Mary and Pope Leo the Great on the sides. In the center, the Madonna della Misericordia, by Raffaello Scaminossi (1529 -?). In the presbytery, behind the main altar, is the large Polyptych of the Resurrection (14th century ) by the Sienese painter Niccolò di Segna. Of considerable importance, in the central panel, is the depiction of the Risen Christ, who has conquered death, with the soldiers asleep at the foot of the sarcophagus without a lid: a setting, which in retrospect, refers to the image that Piero Della Francesca will fresco, one hundred years later, in the hall of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, today the main hall of the Civic Museum. On the wall, under the organ, there is a paneled panel depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary (16th century). The left chapel of the presbytery was created specifically to house the Holy Face , one of the oldest painted wooden crucifixes to date, even the oldest in existence. Work of the Carolingian period (9th century), probably prototype of the well-known Holy Face of the Cathedral of Lucca . The restorations carried out in the 1980s have rediscovered the current polychromy, found almost intact under three layers of heavy repainting. At the entrance to the Chapel of the Holy Face there is the Madonna della Sollecitudine, a polychrome stone sculpture from the early 15th century.
Continuing on the left side aisle, near the door of the sacristy, there is a tabernacle from the last years of the fifteenth century, which can be traced back to the workshop of Andrea Della Robbia. At the second altar we find the Assumption of the Madonna by Jacopo Palma il Giovane (1544-1628), a work signed and dated 1602. A little further on, we have the Ascension of Christ by Perugino (Pietro Vannucci, ca.1448 -1523), realized in a period between  1505 and 1510, commissioned by Abbot Simone Graziani, whose sepulchral monument, of the Florentine school (first twenty years of the sixteenth century), we later meet. Lastly, the Resurrection of Christ, the first known work by Raffaellino del Colle, (1524) . Two terracottas from the Robbiana school, dating back to the sixteenth century, are placed on the counter-façade: San Benedetto and San Romualdo, one founder of the Benedictine order and the other of the Camaldolese order. From the side door, open about halfway up the right aisle, you enter the cloister, which houses  a succession of lunettes, in which a cycle of frescoes on the life of San Benedetto is represented. The work again commissioned by Abbot Simone Graziani, regent from 1490 to 1509, was created by an author whose name is unknown, but probably comes from Sodoma's workshop (Giovanni Bazzi, 1477-1549) due to the similarity and narrative analogies with the famous cloister of the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.
Church of the Good Jesus
The Church of the Good Jesus, probably of sixteenth-century origin, houses inside on the sides: San Giuseppe Morente and Madonna, paintings dating back to the eighteenth century, made by unknown local authors, together with eight eighteenth-century medallions, depicting various saints. In the sacristy, the Pietà, a large canvas by Chiara Alberti (17th century).
Church of San Francesco

The original nucleus of the Franciscan church dates back to the end of the thirteenth century, significant elements of the primitive Gothic construction are still preserved: the stone facade with the large rose window and the splayed and trilobed portal, the spire bell tower, the memory of some chapels, the rectangular apse with a large buffered single lancet window. In the second half of the eighteenth century, massive renovations changed the Gothic layout. At the center of the presbytery it is possible to admire the high altar , 1304, a true jewel of Gothic art: the table is supported by a three-lobed arches, resting on slender columns. Furthermore, in the first altar on the left, the painting by Passignano (Domenico Cresti, 1559-1638), depicting the Dispute in the Temple, and in the third altar on the right the Stigmata of San Francesco, a valuable work by Giovanni de 'Vecchi (1536-1614). Of the ancient building there is also a statue of St. Anthony of Padua in polychrome terracotta from the fifteenth century. The body of Blessed Ranieri, a Franciscan friar, who died on November 1, 1304, is kept in the crypt.

Church of San Lorenzo

* ATTENTION: The table of the Deposition is currently located at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence for restoration
The construction of the church and convent was begun in 1556 by the Benedictine nuns after Cosimo I de 'Medici gave the order to destroy the "hamlets" close to the cities, for fear that they could become support points for the enemy. The entrance is preceded by an elegant 16th century loggia, with stone columns. On the altar is located  the table of the Deposition, a masterpiece by Rosso Fiorentino (Giovan Battista di Jacopo, 1495-1540). The artist  was passing through Sansepolcro, after escaping from the sack of Rome, in the period between 1527 and 1530. In the foreground the scene is occupied by a crowd of characters who are characterized by the sumptuousness and dazzling colors of their clothes , contrasted by the livid nakedness of the body of Christ.

Church of San Rocco and Oratory


Built in 1554 by the Compagnia del Crocifisso , it has a very simple facade in pietra serena. Inside, on the right, two angels in adoration, once constitutive elements of the doors of the main altar, are the work of Alessandro and Giovanni Alberti. Later San Sebastiano, a canvas created by Cungi (an artist who died in 1569) . The frame, much larger than the painting itself, is of uncertain origin. The richly gilded high altar on carved wood is the work of the Binoni brothers, carvers from Sansepolcro, active in the first half of the 17th century. Above the high altar, of considerable value  the large polychrome sculpture of La Pietà (13th century) which depicts Christ in the act of deposition from the cross with his feet and hands freed from the nails. The sculpture was made by a fine artist as reflected in the fine modeled body and the drapery. Under the altar the dead Christ on the funeral bed, also in wood, probably of the seventeenth century, which is carried in procession through the streets of the city on Good Friday. On the left side of the church, a seventeenth-century wooden statue, depicting San Rocco together with an eighteenth-century canvas depicting  San Giacomo Maggiore, San Giacomo Minore and San Tommaso. Probably this is what remains of a cycle of paintings, with the twelve apostles depicted, attributed to an unknown artist of the eighteenth century.
Under the church (following the access from the lateral Via della Fonte) is the Oratory of San Rocco, an authentic jewel of the Renaissance. Inside: Christ at the Column, a statue of Umbrian-Tuscan art from the 1700s and an interesting cycle of frescoes by the brothers Alessandro, Cherubino and Giovanni Alberti (1588-89) depicting the Life of Christ, the Passion, Angels and Saints. Under the altar, a sixteenth-century wooden frontal; next to it, two wooden doors, where biblical scenes are carved, leading to the chapel of the Holy Sepulcher in sandstone, designed in 1629, in imitation of the one executed by the great Leon Battista Alberti for the Rucellai Chapel in Florence.

 Church of Santa Maria dei Servi

The original church dates back to the end of 1300, of that  in fact, the three buffered single-lancet windows, still visible on the left side of the church, originate from this period. From 1717 to 1727 Baroque transformations were made on the entire architectural complex. The facade was modified at the end of the nineteenth century, while the bell tower is from the twentieth century. The interior has a single nave, well lit, decorated with typically Baroque stucco and gilding. Above the presbytery is the dome, unique in a church in Sansepolcro.
To the right of the presbytery, there is what remains of the valuable Polyptych of the Assumption by Matteo di Giovanni (1430-1499). In the central altarpiece, Mary rises to heaven within an almond designed by the heads of seraphim, welcomed by the Son and by the hosts of saints and prophets; angels and musicians crown it.
Church of Santa Maria Madre della Grazia

The sixteenth-century Marian sanctuary of Santa Maria della Grazia overlooks Piazza San Francesco, built in 1518 by the Confraternity of Death, born in that year to give a worthy burial to the dead. Of particular impact is the entrance portal, in finely carved wood, where skeletons representing death are depicted in panels. As soon as you enter , you are struck by the beautiful wooden coffered ceiling, the work of local craftsmen who built it between 1636-1642. In the various panels, symbols linked to the Madonna alternate from the canticle of the canticles and the Litany. The main altar, inside its original niche, preserves the venerated image of Maria Madre della Grazia, painted in 1555 by Raffaellino del Colle (1494-1566): and which can be considered his masterpiece . The table depicts the pregnant Madonna, crowned by angels, with the city of Sansepolcro in the background. An image with a miraculous charm and much revered by the inhabitants of the city. Tradition says, in fact, that the Virgin's hands opened, to put an end to a violent earthquake, which struck Sansepolcro in 1558. Next to the Church, under the sixteenth-century loggia, there is an oratory inside which there is an interesting cycle of frescoes attributed to the painters Giovanni Alberti (1558-1601) and Raffaello Scaminossi (1529-?).

Church of Santa Marta

The Church was entrusted, after the departure of the Capuchin nuns to the local society of Porta Romana which reopened it to the faithful. During the Christmas period, the same company sets up an imposing nativity scene that attracts numerous visitors.
 Church of Sant'Agostino
The church of Sant'Agostino, formerly called Pieve di Santa Maria, changed its name in 1555, when the Augustinians moved there. A name derived from an ancient church, which stood about half a mile from the Borgo, next to the road to Cesena, a place, still known today as Pieve Vecchia. Built outside the walls, considering the primitive walls  it was smaller than the current one, in 1203, by agreement between the Bishop of Città di Castello and the Abbot of the Borgo, the church originally had a three-nave layout. Due to the damage suffered following an earthquake, it was rebuilt, from 1770 to 1785, with a single nave with a vaulted ceiling, as we see it today, according to the design by Vincenzo Righi. The primitive Romanesque structure was hidden by the decorations and stuccoes. In 1810 it passed to the order of the Servants of Mary who remained there until 1984. Upon entering, after the restoration and cleaning works, you have the pleasant sensation of harmony and balance and the awareness of being in front of a beautiful example of style baroque-rococo. Inside, the canvas of the third altar on the left, from the Florentine school of the sixteenth century, represents the Nativity of Mary. The painting is surmounted by a beautiful panel with God the Father, from the school of Perugino. A valuable lacquered wooden crucifix from the 14th century serves as an icon for the second altar on the right wall.

Church of Sant'Antonio Abate and Sant'Eligio

The church was built in late Gothic style by the company of the same name  between 1345 and 1366 to give shelter and hospitality to the sick and pilgrims. Of the original building, the church retains the beautiful ogival portal, slightly splayed surmounted by a stone bas-relief with the blessing Christ between Sant'Antonio and Sant'Eligio. The Baroque style, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, made changes to the original layout with the opening of large windows, a barrel vault, frames and stucco capitals. Inside, the main altar is decorated with a sixteenth-century dossal in carved and gilded wood, which forms a valuable frame for the processional banner of the Company made by Luca Signorelli (1445-1523). Painted on both sides, as commissioned in 1505, the banner depicts in the front part the Crucifixion with Jesus in the center of the scene on the cross with the three Marys at his feet, in the background the Calvary with the scene of the deposition and the sepulcher. On the back stand the figures of the two Saints Antonio and Eligio, the latter represented holding the farrier's tools. Valuable work by Raffaellino del Colle (ca. 1494-1566), is the panel with the Eternal Father, placed in the lunette of the main altar.