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Christian Rome

Rome, the heart of Christianity, the seat of the Catholic Church, is the place where history, faith, and art combine in a unique synthesis of majesty and beauty. The millennia of history of this city lives within each monument: basilicas, churches, catacombs. A journey through Christian Rome is a journey to discover places where one can savor the lively history of men and women, popes, saints, and artists who have dedicated their lives to the Church and to spread the Christian message.

Basilica di San giovanni in Laterano facciata

St. Peter's Basilica, The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel
The original St. Peter’s Basilica was built around 320 by the Emperor Constantine in the place where, according to tradition, the apostle Peter was buried. Over the centuries, under various pontificates and with the participation of many artists, the basilica underwent many renovations.

There is so much to visit, from Bernini’s imposing exterior colonnade, to Maderno's façade, to the artistic richness of the interior with the aisles, chapels and works of art, including Michelangelo's Pietà.

Make sure to see the main dome - designed by Michelangelo - and the Vatican Grottoes, located beneath the floor of the basilica that guard the tomb of Peter and other popes. Do not miss a visit to the Vatican Museums, which house works of great artistic value and the Sistine Chapel, a wonderful masterpiece realized by many artists including Michelangelo.

Lateran Complex: The Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Baptistery and the Cloister, the Sancta Sanctorum and the Holy Stairs
It is the oldest basilica in the Western World, and the papal residence until the 14th Century. Its beautiful eighteenth-century façade and the rich sixteenth-century coffered ceiling of the central nave.

To visit: the adjacent Cloister, the work of the most important masters of the Roman cosmatesque style, the Holy Stairs, a place of pilgrimage from all over the world, which, according to tradition was brought to Rome by St. Helena and climbed by Jesus himself during the Passion. Also interesting is the Sancta Sanctorum (Holy of Holies), once the private chapel of the Popes.

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore rises on the summit of the Esquiline Hill and is the only basilica to have kept its original, early Christian structure, albeit enriched by later additions. It is the most important of the Roman churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is also the best preserved. Constructed on top of an even earlier church, thanks to funding from a wealthy Roman patrician, to whom, according to legend, had appeared the Virgin Mary in a dream. The Romanesque-Renaissance bell tower is 75 meters high (the highest in Rome), and the mosaic floor of the cosmatesque masters, are marvelous to visit.

Do not miss: the Cesi Chapel, the statue of the Regina Pacis, the Sforza Chapel, the tomb of Bernini, the Sacra Culla, and the "Nativity" by Arnolfo di Cambio.

The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
It is the second largest basilica after St. Peter’s and stands on the site where, according to tradition, the Apostle Paul is buried. It was converted into a basilica from a sepulchral chapel by Constantine and consecrated in 324. It then became one of the most important stops on the pilgrimage to Rome, and its current form was designed by Pasquale Belli, who rebuilt it in 800.

The grand portico, 70 meters long, consists of 150 columns, in the center of which is placed a colossal statue of St. Paul. The facade is decorated with beautiful mosaics. Inside you can see the famous portrait series of all the popes in mosaics, and the cloister, a masterpiece of the twelfth century.

The Catacombs
A tour of Christian is not complete without a visit to the catacombs, where the earliest followers of Christ were buried. There are more than 60 catacombs and thousands of tombs near Rome, but only five are open to the public: those of San Callisto, Santa Domitilla and San Sebastian in the Appian area, and those of Priscilla and Sant’Agnese in the Nomentano-Salario area.

Useful Information

Basilica Opening Hours

Saint Peter's Basilica
Piazza San Pietro
From October 1 to March 31
Every day from 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
From April 1 – September 30
Every day from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore
Every day from 7:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m..

Basilica of Saint John Lateran
Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano
The Basilica is open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. (exit by 6:30 p.m)

Saint Paul's Basilica
Piazzale di San Paolo, 1
Every day from 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.