The archaeological traces evidence that the city of Cosenza was founded between 380 and 370 b.C., period of the maximum expansion of the Brutii population (Cosenza is also known as the City of the Bruzi). Many a time in dispute with Rome, also leagued with enemies of the Urbe (such as Pirro, Hannibal and the slaves of Spartacus), and for this reason is was often declassed to a simple Roman settlement and its lands were expropriated.
At the decline of the Roman Empire the city was invaded by the Visigoths of Alarico (the legend reports that the Visigoth king, died here of malaria and was buried somewhere in the river Basento with his armour, his horse and part of the "Roman war chest"), by the Byzantines, the Longobards, the Normans, the Hohenstaufen (Svevi), the Anjous and the Aragons.
Emblem of Cosenza is the Norman - Hohenstaufen castle, situated at 380 metres above sea level on the top of the hill Pancrazio. Built by the Saracens after year 1000, it was enlarged by Emperor Federico II in 1239. It features a rectangular shaped plan with a central courtyard and the remains of an octagonal shaped fortified tower, typical of the Hohenstaufen buildings. In the Anjou Ages it became the royal court's residence and was embellished with a chapel.
The old Cathedral, destroyed by the earthquake of 1184 was rebuilt and completed in 1222 in presence of Federico II, who, for the occasion, donated a "stauroteca" (a golden reliquary, artwork of the goldsmiths of Palermo which contains splinters of the Holy Cross).
Even though it submitted continuous damages, the façade still preserves its Romanesque-Cistercense style, with three arched entrances, the large central rose window and the two aligned square side windows above the side entrances.
The bell tower is of the second half of the XVII century. The inside is divided in a large nave and two aisles, with a chapel of the patron Saint "the Madonna del Pilerio" and the Baroque chapel of the SS. Sacramento, with a wooden Cross of '400. On the right hand side of the apse, there is a burial relic where the remains of the local patriots that died in the war in 1844. The famous Bandiera brothers were also buried here before their remains were moved to Venice. In the left corner of the transept lies the tomb of Queen Isabella of Argon, who died in Cosenza in 1271.
The Church of San Francesco d'Assisi was built on the ruins of an old Benedictine monastery. The interior is built in a Latin Cross shape with a main nave and two aisles divided by a series of columns. It features a superb wooden altar of the XVIII century. Of a certain historical importance are: the original chapel with an rose colour stone archway of '400, richly decorated; and the Chapel of the Immacolata, covered by an important Baroque Dome.
The Church of San Domenico was built in the '400 on request of the Family Sanseverino of Bisignano. The superb façade features a wonderful Gothic rose window and a wooden sculptured portal. Inside there are a series of decorations dated to the Late Baroque period such as the plasters, the barrel vault, the dome, whilst the choir area is of the Middle Ages.
Not to miss: the antique Church of the Madonna del Carmine, the Fountain 13 Canali, the Rendano Theatre, Palazzo Telesio, the Roman ruins excavated in piazzetta Toscano and Palazzo Arnone.