Cosenza extends over seven hills, at the confluence of the Crati and Busento rivers. The ancient town, that was once the center of political and economic life, has gained a central position again thanks to in-progress renovation measures. Walking from the Church of San Domenico and crossing the Mario Martire bridge, visitors plunge into history. The refurbished small shops open on Corso Telesio, the street that has on both sides picturesque narrow paths and stairways, climbing up to the ancient town. The main street leads to Piazza Duomo, the square that was also called Piazza degli Speziali or degli Aromatari (Apothecary Square) because a guild of pharmacists, apothecaries and grocers was active in the area. Among the artistic treasures of an inestimable value, the 12th-century Byzantine cross-shaped reliquary and the chapel of the Madonna del Pilerio, the patron saint of the city, deserve to be mentioned. Walking to Piazza Parrasio, the recently discovered remains in Piazza Toscano can be visited. Piazza Prefettura is encircled by architectural beauties: the Rendano Theater, Palazzo del Governo and town public park Villa Vecchia characterized by century-old trees. The Swabian Castle is located on the Pancrazio hill and overlooks the medieval districts of the ancient town and the modern city that extends up to Rende and fades away in the valley where the majestic Pollino mountains stand. Driving along the Villa walls, you get to Piazza Spirito Santo and Lungo Crati, the river bank where every March 19th, a fair named after Saint Joseph (Fiera di San Giuseppe) takes place. Walking along the riverbank, you will arrive to Piazza dei Valdesi and can have the best ice-cream of the city. In the nearby, there is another not-to-be-missed Church, the one dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. The Church keeps masterpieces of the 15th and 16th centuries. The Presepe reproducing the Nativity scene is so majestic that you can walk inside it. Cosenza has a very large number of remarkable monuments and buildings of great historical and cultural value spread in every corner of the ancient city. The Accademia Cosentina (Cosentiam Academy) founded by Aulo Giano Parrasio in 1501, Rendano Theater, Palace of the Province and Civic Museum and Library stand on the Piazza XV Marzo. The National Gallery, housed in the Palazzo Arnone, preserves works of Andrea Vaccaro, Francesco de Mura, Pacecco de Rosa, Corrado Giaquinto and others. Finally, the open-air MAB Museum (Museo all’Aperto Bilotti) it is worth visiting, it occupies the main pedestrianized city street, where artworks by Giorgio De Chirico, Salvador Dalì, Mimmo Rotella and Giacomo Manzù stand for residents and tourists. It is an open-air experience of esthetic enjoyment, a didactic journey, a full immersion in an atmosphere of culture and beauty.
The Cathedral was rebuilt after the 1184 earthquake on the remains of a Paleo-Christian building and it was consecrated at the presence of Frederick II under the episcopacy of the Cistercian monk Luca Campano. The tradition has it that the Swabian king donated the precious Byzantine cross, or Staurotheke, to the Duomo. The Cathedral keeps the mortal remains of Henry VII of Swabia, son of Frederick II, who died at the age of 31, in Martirano in 1242. The ancient Cathedral was severely damaged by earthquakes in 1638, 1783 and 1854. The present-day building still has medieval elements, like the entrance portals and the outer buttress, though it was remodeled after the strong earthquakes that hit Cosenza. The Church keeps the Gothic tomb of Isabel of Aragon, sarcophagus of Meleager and Atalanta, so-called Telesio wooden Crucifix, canvas of the Immaculate by Luca Giordano. The Archibishop’s Palace, annexed to the cathedral, houses the cross-reliquary donated by Frederick II when the Duomo was consecrated. Despite several remake interventions, the 13th-century Church of San Francesco still keeps a chapel dating to the original building. Of remarkable interest is the cloister that can be accessed by the apse area.
The Castle standing on the top of the Pancrazio Hill is one of the best-preserved castles in Calabria. It has a rectangular layout and was probably erected in the 12th century.
Cosenza hosts the Municipal Theater dedicated to the pianist Alfonso Rendano. It was built in a 19th -century neoclassical style, with three-level balconies, and was decorated with paintings and stucco, mainly the ceiling that was realized by the Cosenza painter Enrico Salfi. Among the remains of the original building, there is the Sipario storico (the Historical curtain) illustrating the arrival in Cosenza of the Duke of Calabria and King of Naples Louis III d’Anjou and his wife Margaret of Savoy in 1433, painted by Paolo Vetri from Naples in 1901. The external façade of the theater is equipped with an arcade on big pilasters opening on Piazza XV Marzo. It is decorated with smooth bossage and the upper floor is separated from the arcade through a series of cornices. The upper floor is marked by coupled lesenes delimiting balcony archivolts, and on top of it a cornice develops all along the perimeter. Above, a perforated parapet bears the coat-of-arms of the city. The arena is horseshoe-shaped and contains three-level balconies and a gallery; it can house 800 spectators: 336 in the arena and 479 in balconies and gallery. The stage is 14 m-deep and includes a 14 m-wide proscenium and 19 m-high grid deck. Any kind of opera and drama productions can be staged in the theater, as well as symphony concerts, dance shows and conferences.