The earthquake that hit L’Aquila, Italy has inflicted devastating damage to multiple sites of the city’s artistic history. L’Aquila, the medieval capital of the Abruzzo region just northeast of Rome, was at the epicenter of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake early Monday morning. The death toll has reached over 90, and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has estimated 1,500 have been injured.
The full extent of the earthquake’s damage has yet to be assessed, but Giuseppe Proietti, Secretary General of the Italian Culture Ministry commented to the news agency ANSA that the quake’s toll has been “huge.” Much of the city’s treasured Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture is now gone.
The city’s largest Romanesque church, the Santa Maria di Collemaggio, cracked at the transept and part of the nave has collapsed. The 13th-century basilica was the coronation site of Pope Celestine V in 1294. Other collapsed structures are the cupola of the 17th-century Anime Sante church and the bell tower of San Bernardino da Siena. In addition, it has been reported that the Porta Napoli, built in 1548 to honor Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, is gone.
Concern has turned to the National Museum of Abruzzo. A reported collapse on the third floor of this 16th-century castle has prevented anyone from entering the building to evaluate damage to the museum’s civic and religious works, which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
In addition to the deaths, tens of thousands have been left homeless. The National Italian American Foundation has set up a special Abruzzo relief fund to aid the victims of the earthquake. Although the Italian Red Cross has not yet asked for international assistance, the US International Response Fund will be taking donations.