In the province of Ancona, in the region of Marche, close to the town of Genga, you will find the Frassassi mountain caves. These are large, high, natural caves running deep inside the mountain forming a system of tunnels and 'rooms' all full of stalagmites and stalactites.
Resting just inside one of them is the Tempio de Valadier, a neo-classical structure looking more like an illustration from a fairy tale or a set for a fantasy film. From inside the cave the silhouette of the temple, the rough walls of the cave and the astounding view beyond form a striking picture.
The temple was built in 1828 for Pope Leone XII who was born and lived in the area. It was designed by the Italian architect, Giuseppe Valadier and built from white travertine which was mined from the quarry above the cave.
It has an octaganal shape which was designed to represent the resurrection of Jesus after eight days. The structure is topped by a domed roof.
There are records to prove that the local population have been taking refuge from attacking enemy tribes in the caves since the 10th century. It later became a pilgramage site for those seeking forgiveness and has become known as the 'Refuge of Sinners'.
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