Being the cradle of Christianity, it’s no surprise that Rome has a dizzying number of interesting churches, many with awe-inspiring works of art steeped in history. These churches are not just supremely beautiful but are treasure troves of phenomenal paintings, remarkable sculptures, elaborate mosaic work and even ancient ruins and relics! Their noble architecture, stellar artwork and fascinating history have for long attracted scores of tourists from all across the world.
Currently, Rome is home to almost 900 churches and here we present our top 4 picks for the most impressive churches worth a visit – follow our guide and discover incredible religious grandeur of Rome’s holy sites.
St. Peter’s Basilica… The Classic Icon of the Vatican City
Known to all, St. Peter’s Basilica is the bedrock of Christian faith and the world’s biggest church. Sprawling across 22,067 square meters with an impressive height of 136 meters straight from the ground, this basilica is a fine example of Renaissance architecture in Rome, more specifically in the Vatican City, the beating heart of Roman Catholicism and the primary residence of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope).
Designed by Renaissance grandmasters Michelangelo and Bernini themselves, every inch of the church teems with religious significance and artistic splendour. Inside, you will discover countless spectacular works of art. Amongst all, Bernini’s Baldacchino and Michelangelo’s Pietà are shameless crowd pleasers.
Also, the church is believed to be constructed upon the necropolis of Saint Peter, the first pope and Bishop of Rome – following the Catholic tradition. His tomb is situated right below the high altar.
You can glance through our Vatican City Tours, which includes must-visits of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel on a 3-hour tour; with immaculate story-telling and fact-sharing abilities, our local English speaking guides breathe life into the art and architecture of the city ensuring a full-blown interactive experience to every traveller.
Papal Archbasilica of St. John in the Lateran… Takes You Back in Time
The official cathedral of Rome is not St. Peter’s Basilica but St. John Lateran! Surprised, are you? Don’t be, because St. John cathedral is one of the oldest surviving Christian churches in Rome and believed to be the first Catholic church of the Western World, constructed in the 4th century AD.
Unfortunately, little remains of the original church. Frequent fires and earthquakes have largely destroyed the actual structure. The church you see today was largely restored in the 16th and 17th-century – featuring unique Baroque architecture. Its jaw-dropping interior includes sculptures, frescoes, mosaics and columns – they adorn nearly every single fragment of the magnificent church.
The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore… A Box of Jewels
With striking columns, beaming marble, glistening stained glass and awe-inspiring statues – the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the four papal churches in Rome, constructed around 440 AD and the largest to be consecrated to the Virgin Mary.
The mesmerizing 5th-century Biblical mosaics adorning the triumphal arch above the main altar speak volumes of the church’s long history so does the marble floor and bell tower. It is believed that the gold that dazzles on the ceiling was brought over by Columbus from the New World. Though the facade of the basilica beams with 18th-century Baroque architecture, everything inside still appears so medieval, so majestic.
Santa Maria in Trastevere… Pretty Inside and Out
Seated in the charming neighbourhood of Trastevere, Santa Maria is one of the most ancient churches in Rome, built in 350 AD. It is believed to be one of the first churches built to commemorate the Virgin Mary. The inside of the church is most impressive; 12th-century Byzantine mosaics are found resplendently adorning the interior. Don’t forget to admire the beauty of Domenichino’s gilded ceiling, which was finished in 1617.
The church is also home to many ancient religious relics, including the head of St. Apollonia and a snippet of the Holy Sponge. Outside the church, the piazza boasts a gorgeous octagonal fountain – spend a few moments here soaking in the tranquil atmosphere of the neighbourhood while the Santa Maria church sets a perfect picturesque backdrop.
However, besides these 4 amazing churches, there are myriad other interesting sights dotting the Eternal City which can be best explored with best family tours in Rome. For more details, feel free to reach us today.
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