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Churches and Basilicas


Basilica of Saint Peter San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John)
Santa Maria Maggiore Santa Maria in Trastevere
San Paolo fuori le mura Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli
Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola
Basilica of Saint Clement San Lorenzo fuori le mura
San Sebastiano fuori le mura Santa Croce in Gerusalemme 
Church of St. Louis of the French Oratory of the Seven Sleepers
Church “Santa Maria della Pace” Basilica di S.Cecilia
Piazza Foro Traiano and Piazza della madonna di Loreto Synagogue




Basilica of Saint Peter

The original Basilica was built in the first half of the 300’s under Silvestro I pontificate, torn down in 1506 and replaced by the existing building.  Pope Giulio II hired the architect Bramante to oversee works and the most famous architects of the time argued over the project during the years. Among these Michelangelo, Peruzzi e Bramante decided to use the Greek cross plan while Raphael Sanzio and Sangallo decided to transform the Greek cross design with a Latin cross-like structure. The basilica was defined by Carlo Maderno in the first years of 1600, during the pontificate of Paolo V who imposed to reuse the Latin cross-like structure. The Great Steps and the colonnade in Saint Peter’s Square was planned and completed by Bernini replanned the baldachin and decorated the papal altar. The Dome was planned by Michelangelo who never saw it complete It was later finished by Fontana and Della Porta. The facade erected by Carlo Maderno, supported with highly prominent columns, is 115 mt wide and more than 40 metres high  and the massive statues of St. Peter and St.Paolo stand out of it. The new basilica has maintained the original structure with one nave and four aisles. It is 131.66 metres (432.0 ft) long, 65 metres (213 ft)-wide, and 29.70 metres (97.4 ft)-high, the second largest in Rome.



San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John)

It ranks second after St.Peter Basilica, it’s  the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome and it claims the title as the mother church of all the churches in the world. The basilica was built in early Christian time in the first years of 300. The Lateran Palace and the site were given to Pope Milziade by Constantine I, it’s said, as thanksgiving gift to Christ following the victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. The first building was edificated on this area and it was renovated many times over the centuries. In the first years of 1300 a huge fire destroyed the Basilica but it was immediately rebuilt by Clemente V. A wonderful porch, designed by Alessandro Galilei, leads to the entrance. The Basilica, planned by Francesco Borromini is divided into five aisles, the major have coffered ceilings whereas the two besides have small chapels, moreover the major is enriched by the statues of 12 Apostoles in the  niches of pillars.



Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the four Patriarchal Basilicas in Rome. Its construction was ordered by Pope Liberio who – it’s believed –saw the Virgin Mary in his dreams. She, and an unusual snow fall on that place on August 5th 356, indicated him where to build the church. Under an evocative celebration, occurring every year on 5th of August the falling of white flower petals from the ceiling recalls the so-called Miracle of Snow in honour of Madonna of Snow. The actual Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica was built under Sisto III (432-440) who erected it and dedicated it to Mary’s motherhood, just after the Council of Efeso in 431. The Church has mantained the original Early Christian structure enriched by following insertions. Its magnificent and shaped interior is 86 mt long.  Monolithic columns with ionic chapiters divide it in 3 aisles and support the mosaic ornamented trabeation. The first carved Nativity is today housed in the Basilica and was commissioned by Pope Niccolò IV to Arnolfo di Cambio in 1288. This sacre representation, it’s said, has its origin in 432 when  pope Sisto III (432-440) created a Nativity cave in the early Basilica.  Pilgrims returning from the Holy Land to Rome, took back on wood fragments of the Holy Crib as a gift, today saved in the guilded Confession reliquary. The two major chapels are the Sistine Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and the Paoline Chapel



Santa Maria in Trastevere

The basilica of St. Mary in Trastevere is probably the first Church dedicated to the Mother of Jesus. Legend has it that a natural oil spring in Piazza Trastevere appeared in the same year of the Birth of Jesus indicating to Pope Callisto the point where to edificate the Church and a stone bearing  the inscription  ‘Fons Olei’,  marks the source under the presbytery. The Church was built and opened to the Mass by Giulius I. The aisles aside were built by Pope Adriano, whereas Pope Gregorio IV committed relevant works for the presbytery but only later works made the Basilica as stands today.



San Paolo fuori le mura (Saint Paul outside the walls)

The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is one of Rome's four papal basilicas, it ranks second after St.Peter in Vatican.

It was built over the burial place of Saint Paul, 3km far from Three Fountains area, where the Apostolus was beheaded and martyrised. After various structural renovation, the saint’s sepolcrum is today located under the Great Altar . The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls today has been  included in the jubilee itinerary since 1300 AD and as a pilgrim destination. The basilica was extensively modified and redecorated over the centuries.  The inner structure has 80 columns separating the 5 naves and a precious coffered ceiling. Each pope has his mosaic portrayed in a frieze. The external portico, gathering the garden is made of 150 columns and is an addiction of 1928. The cloister, instead, is a masterpiece of twelfth century and saves various architectural fragments of the original building



Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli

The Basilica of St. Mary on the Altar of Heaven, on the highest summit of the Capitol Hill, is named after a vision of the Emperor August, where a beautiful lady, the Virgin Mary, with baby in her breast  said to him ‘ this is the God’s son Altar’ . Unfortunately, this church lived hard times. As  it was considered the Church of people, it was turned into a stable in 1797, during the napoleonic invasion, while after Italy United things went worse and was designated to Municipal Police. The interior has three pointed naves separated by twenty-two columns, and it’s full of artistic treasures: remarkable are the rich coffered ceiling, the precious pavement, Bufalini Chapel, frescoed by Pinturicchio and the tombstone of Giovanni Crivelli by Donatello. The Church saves a copy of the wooden statue of Infant Jesus. The original carved in olive tree of Getsemani, has been stolen in 1994 and never recovered.



Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo

St Mary of People is one of the most famous Church in Rome. Located in Piazza del Popolo, at the end of Via del Corso, this Church was erected in eleventh century as a small chapel, under Pope Paschal II commission, over what was believed to be the Tomb of Nero and was rebuilt and extensively modified over the centuries. The Basilica has three naves and four chapels on each side. Chigi chapel by Raphael is the most remarkable one. Among the sparkling images of angels and guilded decorations, it seems like God, surrounded by  Cherubins,  sticks out of the big blue porthole and observes us for real. The vault of this chapel is not the only masterpiece,indeed. In the second half of 1600, the big artist Gianlorenzo Bernini gives his contribute to the beauty of the Basilica with Abacuc and The Angel, a wonderful sculpture that became even more famous after Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons.

The Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul by Michelangelo Merisi alias Caravaggio, are also two wonderful paintings in this Church one cannot miss. Depicted between 1600 and 1601, they feature the Michelangelo painting themes in the Vatican Paoline Chapel but are different in expressive language. They represent the dramatic human reality by a contrasting game of lights and shadows that hide and enhance the characters depicted. The Augustinian cloister, then, was Martin Luther’s temporary site in Italy in his early years.



Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola

It was built in 1626 in  “Latin Cross” plan. It was dedicated  to the order and to the founder of Jesuits

Recent studies have ascertained that it is Orazio Grassi’s project. He was architect, mathematician and astronomer, and antagonist of Galileo Galilei.

It was rich in works of great artists such as  Andea Pozzo, Francesco Trevignani, Filippo della Valle, it shows exceptional pictorial perspectives, over  6 chapels situated along the side aisles and finally the  beautiful  tomb of Gregory XV.



Basilica of Saint Clement

A wonderful testimony of the religious history of Rome, the Church is in Baroque style like many other churches in Rome, but its peculiarity is in its foundations.

In 1853 the original Church was brought to light. It was situated under the current building, of the period of  Constantine I, interesting frescoes were brought to light.

An exceptional  discovery was made, the original church had been built on a structure of the imperial period, and inside there was a well-preserved  Mithraeum.





San Lorenzo fuori le mura  (St. Lawrence Outside the Walls)

It’s made up by the merge of two neighboring churches. The first built in 330s by Constantine over the the tomb of St. Lawrence, deacon martyr, the second erected in 580s by Sixtus III in honour of the Virgin Mary and entirely rebuilt by Hadrian I. It was severely damaged in the bombing on 19th July 1943, and restored for the Jubilee in 1950.






San Sebastiano fuori le mura (St Sebastian Outside the Walls)

It’s also known as Basilica Apostolorum as initially dedicated to the Apostles Peter and Paul, whose remains were kept in the catacombs below. Subsequently it was buried St. Sebastian, victim of Diocletian persecution.



Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross in Jerusalem)