What makes Loreto one of the most important pilgrimage destination that attracts every year visitors from all over the world is the Holy House (click here to know more about its history). The niche has become a sacred place of worship where visitors of the shrine can venerate the statue of Our Lady of Loreto, a work by L. Celani (1922). The original statue (XIV century) was destroyed in a fire in 1921. The internal paintings date back to the XIV century. The astonishing marble cladding is a work by Donato Bramante (1506 ca.) and it is made on the model of "Ara Pacis" (in Rome). It is considered to be one of the most important marble sculptural group of the Italian Renaissance. Its final realisation was only possible thanks to the collaboration of other sculptors between 1511 and 1538 : A. Sansovino, B. Bandinelli, R. da Montelupo, N. Tribolo, F. da Sangallo, D. D'Aima, Lombardo's brothers and Della Porta's brothers, A. da Sangallo. The main theme of the ornamental design is Virgin Mary's life : "The Annunciation" by Sansovino- located in the main altar and "The Translation of the Holy House" (that refers to the popular legend, located in the back part of the cladding) are two of the most important sculptural groups. By observing and walking around the marble cladding we can see a series of niches, where inside we find statues of various Prophets and Sybils.
The Cupola was painted between 1890-1907 by Cesare Maccari. The decorative paintings depict Loreto Litanies and stories of Our Lady. Some of the ancient paintings are now held in the Museum - Art Gallery (Museo Pinacoteca).
There are nine absidal chapels surrounding the Basilica, all of them were originally decorated with frescoes and canvases painted by various artists between XVI and XVII century (they are now located in the Museum-Art Gallery). Towards the end of 1800 the renovation works of the Basilica started; during this time the absidal chapels were painted too. Catholics from all around the world financed the decoration works. For this reason we can today appreciate how each chapel is dedicated to a different Nation. Among the arists that took part to the works we find : L. Seitz, M. Faustini, C. Donati, A. Gatti, B. Biagetti, C. Lameire, B. Steffanina.
The Chapel of the Dukes of Urbino is the only chapel that remains authentic. It was painted in 1582 by Federico Zuccari and decorated with beautiful stuccoes by Brandani. The altarpiece is the famous Visitation by Federico Barocci (1580). The one we can see there now is a mosaic copy from the XVIII century, whereas the original one is located in the Vatican Museums.
The Sacristy of St. Luke is decorated with gorgeous inlaid cupboards from the XVI century. From here we can reach the St. Crucifix's Crypt.
The Sacristy of St. Marc was painted by Melozzo da Forlì (1477-1479). The paintings on the ceiling vault depict angels holding the tools used during the Passion and Prophets, whereas the ones on the wall depict Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem.
The Sacristy of St. John. The frescoes in there were realised by Luca Signorelli (1481-1485) and depict angels while playing music (on the ceiling vault) ; the Apostles and the "incredulity" of St. Thomas (on the walls); the "Conversion of Saul" (above the main door). He is also the author of the series of monochromes in the central nave of the Basilica.
Baptistery's Chapel - by T. Vergelli (1600-1607) painted by Cristoforo Roncalli the so-called Pomarancio (1612-1615).
New Sacristy's Passage- decorated with elegant stuccoes by F.Selva (XVII century); it hosts a collection of paintings by various artists, among which Guido Reni and Simone Cantarini.
New Sacristy or Treasure Hall. The room was designed to function as storage for all the votive gifts gave by the visitors of the shrine to the Virgin Mary. The decorative frescoes and the altarpiece are by Cristoforo Roncalli (Pomarancio) and date back to the XVI century.
Lower Basilica or St. Piligrims' Crypt : it is a wide room re-opened in 2000 on occasion of the Jubilee. The altar is made by ancient shelves. The processional cross is a work by Valeriano Trubbiani and it was donated by The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The main door, where the Annunciation (closed door) and the Translation of the Holy House (open door) are depicted, is a work by Massimo Aranci.