The Basilica of the Saint is the country’s main sacred building because it is dedicated to and preserves the relics of Saint Marino, the patron and founder at the origins of the San Marino community.
Designed and built starting in 1826 by Antonio Serra, an architect from Bologna, it was built on the area of the ancient 16th-century parish church that was demolished to make way for the new one. This was a serious loss for art history, as one of the earliest Christian monuments in Italy of the pre-Romanesque style was erased.
The present basilica, consecrated in 1855, is neoclassical in style with a pronaos of Corinthian columns. The massive, already Romanesque bell tower was rebuilt in the 1600s.
The interior has three naves with seven altars. To the left of the high altar can be appreciated the throne of the Captains Regent, a work of the 17th century; below the altar is a small urn containing the bones of St. Marino; to the right in a marble monument is a silver shrine containing the upper part of the saint’s skull.
To the right of the basilica is the 16th-century church of St. Peter, remodeled around 1826. It is accessed through the sacristy by means of a staircase carved out of the bell tower of the main Basilica.
The apse of St. Peter’s church is formed entirely from the bare rock: carved into it are two niches that popular tradition indicated as the beds of St. Marino and St. Leo and to which the faithful attribute thaumaturgic properties. On the 17th-century marble altar, donated by Roman musician Antonio Tedeschi in 1689, towers a statue of St. Peter by sculptor Enrico Saroldi. Under the church was built in 1914 the stone crypt where the urn in which the saint’s bones rested for many centuries is kept.
It belongs to the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro whose patron saints are St. Marino and St. Leo (Leo).