Experience one of Switzerland’s most impressive Romanesque churches and its enormous 16th-century fresco.
Santa Maria degli Angeli is Lugano’s iconic late-Romanesque church with more than five centuries of history. It has a grand organ and one of the most famous religious frescoes in Switzerland. Explore the quiet streets that lead to the church, bathe in the light that bounces through its tall windows and meditate beneath the work of Bernardino Luini, the Italian painter and acquaintance of Leonardo da Vinci.
The church dates back to 1499, when it was constructed with the support of local residents. While it was originally attached to a monastery, it has been standing alone since the mid-19th century.
Set off on foot to explore the city streets that lead to the humble church to get a feel for the peaceful surrounding neighborhood. Note the modest exterior of Santa Maria degli Angeli and then move to its breathtaking interior. Enter through the main church doors to come face to face with Luini’s masterpiece and a cavernous main nave.
The large fresco, entitled Passion and the Crucifixion of Christ, depicts Christ upon the cross. It is characterized by its vivid colors and exquisite detail. The fresco covers the entire grand partition.
Continue exploring the church to see the enormous organ, which has two 61-note keyboards and was installed in 1965. Attend a Catholic mass at the church to experience the sound reverberating through its pipes. Visits during other times of the week are also allowed. Make a donation to light a small red candle in honor of lost loved ones.
Santa Maria degli Angeli is located in central Lugano and can be reached on foot from within the town. If you are coming from a different area, look for parking in the streets surrounding the church. Bus routes regularly pass through the area as well. The church is open daily and has no admission fee.