The churches were, for several centuries, the goal of most of the guests of Rome. Devotees from all over Europe created the long and arduous journey to Rome to worship at seven specific sites that selected as traveling churches.
These included the four patriarchal basilicas (San Giovanni in Laterano, San Pietro in the Vatican, San Paolo Fuori lupus Mura, and Santa Maria Maggiore), plus 3 others: Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, San Lorenzo Fuori lupus Mura, and San Sebastiano.
Tourists today still represent pilgrims, however, many more visit Rome’s churches as attractions, to admire their design and thus the art treasures they house. In them, you will find works by several of the best masters: Michelangelo; Raphael; Bernini; Caravaggio; Sansovino; Filippo Lippi; and many additional unidentified masters of the art of mosaic, fresco painting, and masonry from medieval and earlier times.
Find out more about these impressive places of worship with our list of the tallest churches in Rome.
Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter’s Basilica)
The most notable church in Christendom, San Pedro, dedicated to the Apostle. The United Nations agency believed to have been the first bishop of Rome and, per se, the first pope. the first St. Peter’s Church dedicated in 326, and designed under the patronage of Emperor Constantine. In 1452, Pope Saint Nicholas V set out to create an entirely new church, which completed until the end of the 18th century.
Immediately after entering the Brobdingnagian interior of the basilica is Michelangelo’s famous Pietà, completed in 1500 and protected by a reinforced glass panel. different highlights of St. Peter’s the richly decorated Religious Ceremony Chapel, with works by each sculptor (the tabernacle) and Borromini (the bronze grille); the good dome designed by Michelangelo.
Be sure to peruse the beloved bronze sculpture of Saint Peter Enthroned and on top of Saint Peter’s topographical point, the pontifical altar with a bronze-covered canopy created by the sculptor when he was just twenty-five years old and a masterpiece of Baroque sculpture. In the left aisle are tombs of notable Popes created by leading artists of their day, together with a sculptor. Additional pontifical tombs are within the sepulchre.
As one of the most popular places to visit in Rome, lines at St. Peter’s will be long and laborious, and finding your way through all the halls of the Vatican will be difficult. how to avoid the lines and navigate the attractions requires a three-hour skip-the-line tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. A guide will not only make sure you see the highlights, but also place them in their historical and creative context. The included audio headphones can ensure you don’t miss a word.
Address: Piazza San Pietro, Rome
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
One of the four patriarchal basilicas of Rome and an important traveling church, Santa Maria Maggiore has the distinction of being the only church in Rome to celebrate mass every day since the fifth century. The basilica situation resolved by a vision of Pope Liberius in the fourth century, in which the mother told him to build a church where it would snow the next day. once the snow fell on the Esquiline hill on the following morning, on August 5, the Pope ordered to design the church.
Additions created in later centuries: a new niche in the 13th century; the tallest bell tower in Rome in 1377; and at the end of the fifteenth century, the gold coffered ceiling of the prosecutor Giuliano Sangallo, adorned with the main gold of America.
Two side chapels, added in the 16th century, form transepts: Cappella Sistina, to the right, contains a bronze tabernacle and thus the tombs of two popes, while Cappella Paolina contains a richly ornamented screen. On the covered altar, a highly honored image of a mother historically attributed to Saint Luke, however it a 13th century work.
This 86-meter-long interior is among the best and most majestic in Rome, its 3 corridors separated by thirty-six marble columns and 4 granite ones. The oldest mosaics in Rome, from the 4th or 5th century, highlight the upper part of the walls, Associate in nursing a complex geometric inlay of colored stone, called The floor covered in Cosmatesque art from the middle of the 12th century.
Try to return early in the morning to get the best overview of the 13th-century mosaics in the monument and also the niche, depiction of the past, and testament themes; they considered the supreme achievement of the art of the Roman mosaic artisans.
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome
San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran)
Before the Popes established their residence in the Vatican once they returned from exile in Avignon, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran was the apostolic residence. St. John Lateran has remained the episcopal church of the Pope, hence the inscription on the facade: “Mater et caput omnium ecclesiarum Urbis et Orbis” (Mother and head of all the churches in the city and also in the world).
Begun in 313 with the construction of a large church, it was repeatedly enlarged and altered, and almost completely remodeled in the 16th and 17th centuries. however, the raised Roman edifice of Constantine’s first church venerated during this Baroque reconstruction by Borromini.
The wide façade, with its large statues made around 1735 by Alessandro Galilei, is a masterpiece of recent Baroque design. The bronze gates came from the traditional government within the Forum. Inside, the impressive wooden ceiling dates back to the 16th century. Inside the niche, behind the building, there are some beautiful mosaics and reliable copies of paleo-Christian originals.
From the left aisle, you will enter the cloister, a masterpiece of 13th-century design by the Vassalletti, a family of Roman artists. The polygonal-shaped basin, San Giovanni in Fonte, designed by Constantine on the location of a Roman nymphaeum within the Lateran Palace. it the oldest basin in Christendom, providing a model for later baptisteries, not only in the European country but throughout Europe.
Diagonally across the spacious Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano is the church of the Scala Santa with the Holy Steps, a flight of twenty-eight marble steps (now clad in wood) believed to come from Pilate’s palace in the capital. national, delivered to Rome within the fourth century by Santa Elena. The faithful climb it on their knees in memory of the Passion of Christ.
The Egyptian obelisk in Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano is the tallest and also the oldest in Rome, brought from Thebes in a specially designed ship in 357.
Address: Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano 4, Rome
Santa Maria del Popolo
Legend has it that this church on the other side of the Pincio Gardens enlarged from a chapel designed to expel the disembodied spirit of Nero. because the church of the Augustinian order, with a beautiful Renaissance facade, dome, and bell tower, enlarged by an architect in 1505, and later restored by Bernini.
Martin theologian, the UN agency was Augustinian Nursing Associate, lived in the house of the order during his visit to Rome in 1510-11, and after the Reformation, the altar at which he had celebrated mass was avoided by alternative members of the order. Its three aisles and side chapels house various tombs, including two in the choir of Andrea Sansovino. In the vault of the choir, there are frescoes by Pinturicchio depicting the initiation of the Blessed Virgin.
The side chapels are significantly beautiful: the second one on the left designed by Raphael in 1515 for the Chigi family, and also the Cesari Chapel, within the north building, contains two outstanding images of the old master, the Conversion of Saint Paul and the Crucifixion. of San Pedro.
Address: Piazza del Popolo, Rome
Pantheon (Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs)
While the Pantheon ranks high on the list of ancient Roman attractions in the city, it was designed around AD 120. C. as a temple to honor Roman deities, these days it is a Catholic church. It has been since the beginning of the 7th century when it had been reborn by Pope Boniface IV and consecrated to the Holy Mother and the Martyrs.
Although its stones, columns, statues, and even a portion of the early bronze roof cannibalized for different uses over the centuries (in the 17th century, Pope Urban VIII ordered the roof of the portico to fused with forged cannons for Castel Sant’Angelo), the building remains similar, and its dome remains the largest non-reinforced concrete dome in the world.
Since the Renaissance, the Pantheon has become a burial place for necessary figures, such as the painter Raphael, the musician Arcangelo Corelli, and also the 2 kings of Italy: Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I. when centuries of being one in all the free things to try and do in Rome, starting in the summer of 2018 the Pantheon started charging a small admission charge.
Santa Maria in Trastevere
Santa Maria in Trastevere (the densely populated neighborhood on the right bank of the Tiber) could also be the main place in Rome where Christians could hold public services. Construction began around 221 and was completed in 340; it was restored in the 12th century and redecorated in the Baroque style. The church has an architectural-style bell tower, a facade adorned with mosaics, and a portico housing Early Christian sarcophagi.
Inside, it’s hard to grasp where to look for the first time: at the beautiful marble inlay on the floor; the giltwood coffered ceiling; or the mosaics inside the niche, measuring square masterpieces of medieval art. These depict Christ, the Virgin, and saints above a frieze of lambs, and below this tableau are scenes from the Life of the Virgin by Pietro Cavallini in the late 13th century. The 15th-century tabernacle in the West End of the area to the right is by Mino del Reame.
Address: Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome
Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
The 9th-century church designed over the home of a Roman woman who martyred by the UN agency at the age of fourteen and is a place worth visiting for many reasons. The exceptional 13th-century fresco of Judgment Day is by Pietro Cavallini, a forerunner of Giotto di Bondone, and Maderno’s impressive sculpture of Saint Cecilia sculpted on her incorrupt body exhumed in the 16th century.
Beneath the church, which also has some elegant mosaics, square measures 2 surprises: the foundations of a Roman house associated a beautiful medieval sacristy with a secret: it is not from the Middle Ages, but built in the 19th century in an attempted return. -capture a number of the sweet of the medieval works that destroyed in Rome. You enter the church through an impressive courtyard.
Address: Piazza di Santa Cecilia 22, Rome
Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
One of seven pilgrimage churches, the Basilica of the Holy Cross in the national capital built in the 4th century to deal with the Brobdingnagian collection of holy relics dumped in Rome from the national capital by Saint Helena, mother of Constantine.
In the chapel of the relics are artifacts of square measure of the Crucifixion: thorns of the Crown of Thorns, elements of the Cross of truth, fragments of the grotto of the Nativity, and different sacred relics. These squares are preserved in reliquaries from the 19th century, exposed since the 1030s in a chapel specially created for their preservation and display.
Little a few remains of the 4th-century church when it was rebuilt in the 18th century, but you’ll see the first granite columns in the later Baroque church.
Address: Piazza di S. Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome
Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Built on the site of the earlier temple of Minerva, which gives its name to her name, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is the largest Gothic church in Rome (and one of the few of its kind). Begun around 1280 and completed in 1453, its location in the center of the city and its repair by the preaching Dominicans made it popular with the people of Rome, and as you’ll see from the number of tomb slabs in the floor and on the walls, has a crucial role in the spiritual life of the city.
The best of the ceremonial chapels in this three-aisled basilica is the Carafa Chapel at the top of the south building, also called the Chapel of the Annunciation of St. Thomas, renowned for its Filippo Lippi frescoes (1489). These glorify each mother and saint theologian, a member of the order, with scenes from his life.
The altar contains the relics of Saint Catherine of Siena, and before the altar, to the left, there may be a 1521 sculpture of the Risen Christ by the designer. Although he was thoroughly criticized during Michelangelo’s time for representing some kind of pagan god rather than the founding father of Christianity (the loincloth was later), virtuoso skill in sculpture affected other artists: the painter Sebastiano del Piombo argued that the kneeling Christ during this work all the buildings of Rome were put in value enough.
In a passage to the left of the building is the tomb of the metropolitan painter Fra Angelico, a member of the order. In the Piazza Della Roman deity, behind the Pantheon, stands the sculptor’s much-loved marble elephant, which was later used as the base for a small 6th-century BC low Egyptian obelisk.
Address: Piazza della Minerva 42, Rome
One of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Rome, San Clemente was designed before the year 385 by the early Christians. On the site of a house that contained a sanctuary of Mithras, now well below street level. once this church was destroyed by the Normans in 1084. A new basilica was designed on its ruins in the early 12th century.
The upper church reflects the type of recent Roman building with the entrance porch of Associate in Nursing; an atrium with a fountain; the area where the congregation worshiped; and therefore the altar and the recess, spaces reserved for the priesthood.
Notice the traditional columns and thus the beautiful ornate marble, add the flooring, the screens, the Easter candle holder, the tabernacle, and thus the throne. The monument and recess are the most richly adorned in Rome, lined with mosaics of recent and New Testament scenes, with the Tree of Life, saints and symbols, animals and plants in elaborate combination.
Also striking are Masolino’s Early Renaissance frescoes, completed before 1431, inside the small Chapel of St. Catherine in the city’s North Aisle district. These scenes from the life of Saint Catherine of Alexandria are very important because they show the earliest use of perspective painting in Rome.
The lower church, a colonnaded basilica from the 4th century, has frescoes of chemical analysis from different centuries in the style of architecture of scenes from the last testament and the life of Saint Clement. Associate in Nursing’s underpass results in the excavated foundations of a 2nd-century Roman house with the sanctuary of Mithras in a barrel-vaulted chamber. A relief on the altar shows the Persian deity Mithras killing a bull.
Address: Via San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome
San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains)
Started in 431, Saint Peter in Chains is one of the oldest churches in Rome. Preserved as a precious relic inside the altar of chains, which Peter is believed to have carried inside the Mamertine prison. The church, like most of its time, has undergone extensive modifications by later additions. Twenty columns with Doric capitals line the area, and within the north aisle is a wonderful 15th-century tomb of the cardinal saint of Cusa.
But the most important vital work of art here is Michelangelo’s early 16th-century monument of Pope Julius II in the south building. Was originally fashioned by the larger-scale designer for St. Peter’s. only 3 figures of the sculpture he originally planned were made by the same designer: the central figure of Moses and Rachel and Leah, the 2 wives of Jacob.
The statues of Rachel and Leah are outstanding late works of Michelangelo, but the figure of Moses is among the greatest achievements in world sculpture. Moses is shown even when he has received from God the tables of the Law and is observing the people of his terpsichore around the idol, his face reflects every divine illumination and anger at the inconstancy of the people.
Address: Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli 4A, Rome
San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura (St. Lawrence Outside the Walls)
This early Christian basilica, one of the seven pilgrimage churches in Rome, financed by Constantine the Good. Despite frequent reconstructions and restorations, the last wounded by a World War II raid, it retains its original type of basilica, with its construction, its high area with thin side aisles, the sanctuary on a better level, and its beautiful columns.
Look for the remarkably fine inlay of colored stones in marble on the 2 marble pulpits; the one on the right considered the best example in Rome, which is much talked about in this city with such good inlay work. Look further on the floor, the tabernacle, the chair, the Easter candlestick, and thus the place of Cardinal Fieschi.
The arch’s mosaics show Christ surrounded by saints, flanked on the perimeters by elaborate representations of the national capital and Bethlehem. Below, on the extension of the primary basilica, is the place of Pope Pius IX, a United Nations body who died in 1878. The flat cloister dates from the end of the 12th century.
Address: Piazza San Lorenzo, Rome
Santa Maria in Cosmedin
On the Piazza Bocca della Verità side, Santa Maria in Cosmedin is one of the best examples of medieval church design in Rome. Begun in 772 and completed around 1124, this country gem consists of a seven-story bell tower and a fine two-story building with a projecting doorway.
The interior adorned with decorated marbles from the Roman Cosmati family, along with the floor, the marble sanctuary screens, the marble pulpits, and thus the cathedra. The halls frescoed, and several other columns are recycled from ancient sites, along with a bowl. Inside the sepulcher are the first Christian tombs and thus the foundations of a pagan temple.
Unfortunately, the fame and recognition of this church are not based on its magnificent interior or harmonious design, but on the huge stone mask inside the construction known as the Bocca Della Verità, the Mouth of Truth.
Tour buses line the road, one of the few places in Rome where they park, while tourists line up to film hand-to-mouth. The guides claim that this was where the Romans took oaths (supposedly, the mouth bit the hand of anyone who told a lie). It’s a bargain more apparently than it was a wall fountain or screen concealing an associated oracle, said the United Nations agency by mouth for added impact.
Piazza Bocca della Verità offers one of the best views of Rome, from Christian and ancient buildings (including two temples) to the Baroque fountain of the two tritons.
Address: Piazza della Bocca della Verita 18, Rome
San Paolo Fuori le Mura (St. Paul outside the Walls)
The original basilica built here in the 4th and 5th centuries and dedicated to Saint Paul was, until Saint Peter’s reconstruction, the most important church in the world. it restored once it was destroyed by fire in 1823 and resumed its position together with the four patricentric churches of Rome and one of the seven churches of the pilgrim’s path.
Some of the early interior art saved, and although largely rebuilt, it decorates the new church. The high mosaics on the façade are from the 19th century, but on the inner side of the Holy Door, you will see the old bronze door, solid in the urban center from the 11th century.
The immense area -twelve meters by sixty meters-divided into five naves by a forest of eighty columns that lead the gaze to the monument, covered with mosaics from the 5th century, and to the altar and the apse. at the top of the square walls, there are 265 medallions with portraits of all the Popes.
Aside from the 13th-century Venetian mosaics, which extensively remodeled, the decorations inside the apse, as well as the throne, copy geological square measurements dating back to the 19th century. Note the glorious five-meter Easter stand to the right of the altar, the Chapel of the Crucifix, and the fountain.
In the sacristy, you will find the entrance door to the cloister of the Benedictine abbey, adorned with mosaics from the early 13th century by the Vassalletti family. the variety of the columns and the color of the mosaics create every one of the most attractive cloisters in the western world.
Address: Piazzale San Paolo, Rome
Sant’Andrea al Quirinale
In the other city, this Bernini masterpiece packed with tourists, however, in Rome, it usually goes unnoticed among the glut of churches. the interior ONE exuberant expression of baroque fashion, where art, design, and style blend seamlessly. No wonder this was Bernini’s favorite of all his works, even though he commissioned to do it by the cardinal United Nations agency and never paid for the work.
Note, however, that the oval architectural design, further opened up by eight side chapels, creates a sense of space and movement as it rises from an elliptical space to the spherical golden dome above. In full baroque fashion, the structural style is difficult to break with the luxurious decoration of pilasters and friezes; arches and gaps; cornices and windows; coffered domes; and marble and stucco thrive in pink, white, and gold.
Address: Via del Quirinale 29, Rome
In the Monti neighborhood, halfway between the Colosseum and the Termini terminal, the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana one of the few churches in Rome to survived intact from the mid-4th century. never destroyed and restored, as many of the churches of Rome, it used incessantly since its origin. In addition, it houses the oldest Christian mosaic in Rome, geologically dated before four hundred AD.
Santa Pudenziana was the daughter of a Roman legislator and the sister of Santa Prassede, whose basilica is nearby. The sisters they ved their martyrdom by recovering the bodies of Christian martyrs and ensuring that they properly buried.
Although the church has options from various periods of its history, from antiquity to the baroque, its greatest treasure is the highest mosaic of the altar, a representative process of Christ and his apostles seated before the city of Jerusalem. Clad in gold that glitters today as it did at the end of the third century, Christ is seated on a jeweled gold throne. The detail of the facial expressions and the realism of the scene are particularly exceptional. The mosaic remodeled in the 16th century.
Address: Via Urbana 160, Rome
Dedicated to the angelic child of a Roman, St. Prassede has retained the character of an early Christian basilica through a variety of stages of construction. Its area of tall columns rises into the building’s interior, where the 9th-century mosaics lining the monument and square apse are among the best in Rome.
Those on the monument represent the heavenly Jerusalem; inside the apse is the apocalyptic Lamb of Revelation. taller than a frieze of lambs are many saints. These, like other mosaics and frescoes, even intended as decoration glorifying biblical events and saints, but as picture books to instruct the mostly illiterate medieval worshipers in the doctrines of the religion.
The Chapel of San Zeno in the south aisle, designed by Pope Easter I to face the topographical point of his mother Theodora, is a kind of medieval volume, each part of the walls and vaults of square measure covered with mosaics representation process saints and biblical symbols.
Address: Via San Martino ai Monti, Rome
Both the interior and the exterior of Santa Sabina, designed by Pedro del Area Geographical in 425-432, retain the character of a paleo-Christian basilica of Nursing associates, although it embellished in 824. On the upper wall of the portal is one of the oldest mosaics in Rome, of two female figures, and the central entrance within the structure has the oldest incised wooden doors in Christian art, geological dating back to 432. Carved from African cedar by unknown artists, its delicate and Los communicative reliefs illustrate previous scenes and wills. Eighteen of the first twenty-eight panels survive.
Inside the church, the area flanked by twenty Parian marble Corinthian columns, and also the choir has impressive marble screens with ornate marble decoration.
Connected the church, a Dominican religious residence during which Saint Doctor of the Church was a monk contains a cloister of impressive architectural style.
A happiness cell for Saint was later the sculptor’s chapel. From the terrace next to the church here, you’ll enjoy a powerful read across the Tevere towards Trastevere, Venice’s public square, and Citta del Vatican.
Address: Piazza Pietro d’Illiria, Rome
Santa Maria in Aracoeli
At the top of the Capitoline Hill and reached by the long series of steps known as the steps to Heaven. Santa Maria in Aracoeli does not overwhelm with its facade or its size. But it does with its beautiful interior. Its three naves reproduce architectural and gothic style designs. But the reflections that will dazzle the unit the numerous chandeliers whose lights reflected in the ornate decorations of the interior.
Notice the columns that separate the naves: no two area units are the same. As they recycled from ancient Roman buildings. The ceiling ensemble stands out and also the sculpture of the Israelite child carved in wood from the fruit tree Associate in Nursing in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Address: Scala dell’Arcicapitolina 12, Rome
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