THE CHURCH OF SANTA MARGHERITA (13th century) The church is located in an enchanting position on the top of the hill. On the site of the present church existed a small church built by the Camaldolesi monks in the 11th century and dedicated to San Basilio. The small church was damaged during the sack of Cortona in 1258 and reconstructed in 1288 by Santa Margherita and along with San Basilio it was also dedicated to Sant'Egidio and Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Santa Margherita died in 1297 in a room at the back of the little church where she had lived the last years of her life. She was buried in the little church of San Basilio. Immediately after Margherita’s death, the Cortonese constructed a larger church designed by Giovanni Pisano, where they transferred the body of the saint in 1330. From that moment this church was simply called the church of Santa Margherita.
This church was then embellished with paintings and sculpture mainly from the Sienese workshops, of which remain a few paltry relics, such as the sarcophagus of the Saint and the Rose window installed in the present facade. Two marble Madonnas and a remainder of a fresco attributed to Lorenzetti are conserved at the Diocesan Museum. The church underwent considerable Baroque transformations in 1738 and in the second half of the 19th century, until the little church as well as the larger church by Pisano were completely demolished. They are unrecognizable today. Only the choir and two vaults, the second and third of the central nave, of the early constructions are still visible today. The present church is the work of architect Falcini, who modified the project of Presenti as far as the interior is concerned. The facade is the work of Cortonese architect Domenico Mirri (1856-1939), who took over the supervision job from his father Paolo (1803-1878). He left behind a journal about the construction work on the new Church of Santa Margherita, which has recently been printed by the Etruscan Academy by Calosci Publishers in 1989. The rich marble mausoleum on the left of the transept by the Sienese workshops and the saint's urn have been created by Pietro Berrettini. In the altar at the back of the nave on the right there is a precious wooden crucifix, originally kept in the Church of Saint Francis and the work of an unknown artist from the early 1200's. Margherita prayed in front of this cross and received comfort and spiritual guidance. On the right side walls there are relics donated in devotion by the Cortonese Knights of Malta. On the left nave we see a large chapel in memory of the Cortonese who died during the war. Behind the church we find the bell-tower (1650) and the ancient Franciscan monastery surrounded by a large park.
CHURCH OF SAN CRISTOFORO (13th century) The church of San Cristoforo was consecrated in 1192 and underwent different transformations through the year 1760. On the left there is a large fresco which depicts the crucifixion, the annunciation and the assumption by the Umbrian school of the 13th century. The external part of the church is positioned in an enchanting place and is characterized by its rustic construction and an open bell-tower in Romanic style.
CHURCH OF SANT'AGOSTINO (13th century) The church of Sant’Agostino was constructed in Gothic style by the Augustine monks. Successively the beatified Cortonese Augustine monk Ugolino Zefferini (1320-1370) was buried and preserved in a baroque sarcophagus here. It was redone and expanded in 1600 and there are parts of the original church and of subsequent expansions that can be detected on the facade. The parts of the old monastery that are still visible are the courtyard and the lunettes painted in 1669 by Giuseppe Guasparini from the brotherhood of Perugia, which depict scenes from the life of Saint Augustine. The third altar on the left held a painting portraying the Madonna and the Saints, a work by young Pietro da Cortona, which is now in the Academy Museum. On the left apse there is a remarkable, elegant Renaissance stone tabernacle attributed to the Cortonese craftsman Ciuccio di Nuccio (15th century). The church and the monastery are currently undergoing massive restorations.
CHURCH OF SANT'ANTONIO ABATE (14th century) The church of Sant’Antonio Abate (Saint Anthony the Abbot) rises in the area of Bagno di Bacco (Baccus' Bath), a reservoir from the Roman times, whose remains can still be seen on Via Sant’Antonio. Its shape is rectangular and its capacity is of 900 c.m. The facade is made up of irregular sandstone and corresponds to the present oratory and to the bell-tower. The present day open bell-tower was originally a tower, but it was substituted in the first half of the 1600's. The church has no longer been consecrated for worship.
CHURCH OF SAN DOMENICO (15th century) The Church of San Domenico was built in Gothic style at the beginning of the 15th century directly outside the city walls, in the area of the ancient gateway of Peccioverardi, which is now demolished. It was part of the monastery of the Dominicans that has been destroyed too. Sant'Antonio the Bishop of Florence and Fra Angelico lived in this monastery. The facade is simple and harmonious. In the lunette over the doorway there is a fresco by Fra Angelico. The interior has a single nave. Despite the manipulations of the past and the baroque altars, the church has retained its primitive beauty, especially enhanced by the elegance of the archways of the apses and the high raised presbytery. The prestigious work of art on the high altar is a triptych signed by Lorenzo di Niccolò, donated in 1440 by Cosimo and Lorenzo de' Medici. The reason for such a generosity was to have Fra Angelico in Florence to paint the Monastery of San Marco. The triptych depicts the Coronation of the Virgin with other scenes about the Annunciation and the Crucifixion. On the left apse of the church there is the Madonna with Angels and Saints by Luca Signorelli. The church also contained the Annunciation and the Triptych of Fra Angelico, a triptych by Sasseta and an Assumption by Bartolomeo della Gatta, works which can now be admired in the Diocesan Museum.