The Early Christian Basilica of Santa Maria dell’Annunziata (Saint Mary of the Annunciation) is a site of historic and religious interest in Prata di Principato Ultra.
The remains of two churches were unearthed during excavations carried out between 1950 and 1951 in the small square in front of the Basilica. One of the churches contained the other one within its perimeter, which was probably demolished to make way for the new construction. The structure of the small church is very similar to that of the pre-8th century Lombard buildings found in the Benevento area, and so it is ascribed to that period. It is thought that the present Basilica was built in the place of the small church which collapsed after an earthquake, on a site that stands partially on the tuff rock. Over the centuries, parts of the Basilica have been rebuilt or restructured.
Although certain parts of the building have been heavily modernised during the various restoration projects, so that the original styling has been lost, many features still stand out, including fragments of two ancient columns with Corinthian capitals flanking the portal. The representation of the Virgin Mary in prayer is from the Byzantine era, but there are also extremely ancient paintings at the entrance to the small cave (known locally as “Grotta dell’Angelo” or "Angel's Cave") built from the tuff stone in the Catacomb. The scenes include Christ the Judge, with red hair and mournful expression, and the Angel clutching a spear with wings unfurled.
As one of the buildings of greatest historical and cultural interest in Irpinia, the Basilica of Santa Maria dell'Annunziata is an ancient place of worship that has preserved the allure of history and the evolution of sacred art over the centuries.
Basilica Paleocristiana Maria SS. dell'Annunziata
Via Annunziata, 83030 Prata di Principato Ultra AV, Italia