Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about 130 kilometres southeast of Rome, Italy. St. Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, here around 529. It was the site of Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944. The site has been visited many times by the Popes and other senior clergy, including a visit by Pope Benedict XVI in May 2009. The monastery is one of the few remaining territorial abbeys within the Catholic Church.
The history of Monte Cassino is linked to the nearby town of Cassino which was first settled in the fifth century B.C. by the Volsci people who held much of central and southern Italy. It was the Volsci who first built a citadel on the summit of Monte Cassino.
The hilltop sanctuary was the site of the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944, where the building was destroyed by Allied bombing and rebuilt after the war.
Official Website of the Abbey: www.abbaziamontecassino.org
Abbey Entrance Hours:
from 8.30 am. to 12.30 am. in the morning
from 3.30 pm. to 5 pm. (6 pm in summer time) in the afternoon
The Battle of Monte Casino
The Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome and the Battle for Cassino) was acostly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome. In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans holding the Rapido, Liri and Garigliano valleys and certain surrounding peaks and ridges, together known as the Gustav Line. The Germans had not occupied the historic hilltop abbey of Monte Cassino, founded in AD 524 by Benedict of Nursia and which dominated the town of Cassino and the entrances to the Liri and Rapido valleys, although they manned defensive positions set into the steep slopes below the abbey walls. On 15 February, the monastery, high on a peak overlooking the town of Cassino, was destroyed by 1,400 tons of bombs dropped by American bombers. The bombing was based on the fear that the abbey was being used as a lookout post for the German defenders (this position evolved over time to admit that German soldiers were not garrisoned there but that the risk of the monastery becoming occupied justified the action). Two days after the bombing, German paratroopers took up positions in the ruins; the destruction caused by the bombing and the resulting jagged wasteland of rubble gave troops improved protection from air and artillery attack making it a more viable defensive position. From 17 January to 18 May, the Gustav defenses were assaulted four times by Allied troops. For the last of these the Allies gathered 20 divisions for a major assault along a twenty mile front and drove the German defenders from their positions but at a high cost.
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