The Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano is the Cathedral of Rome, and the mother church of all the Catholic churches in the entire world. The basilica is located on the Caelian Hill, in the homonymous square. The church is the highest ranking of the four papal major basilicas, receiving the unique title of archbasilica. Its official name is Papal Archbasilica Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist in the Lateran (Arcibasilica Papale del Santissimo Salvatore e dei Santi Giovanni Battista ed Evangelista in Laterano). SHORT HISTORY The Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano was built in the 4th century in an area owned by the Plauzi Laterani family, which was confiscated by the Roman Empire during the time of Nero. At the beginning of the 4th century, Constantine the Great gave the ancient land and the Lateran residence, now the Lateran Palace, to the bishop of Rome. The church was completed in the first decades of the 4th century, and consecrated in 324 by Pope Sylvester I, who dedicated it to the Most Holy Saviour. In 410, Rome was devastated by the Visigoths of Alaric, and in 455 by Read more [...]
Italy has many churches, and all of them are beautiful and full of spectacular works of art. The main church of the city is referred as Il Duomo, but you will find churches that are named Basilica, Chiesa or Cattedrale, depending on their size and importance.
Some of the most beautiful churches in Italy are the Basilica di San Marco and the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, the Cathedral of the Nativity of Saint Mary and the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Orvieto and the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore in Verona.
The Pantheon is a former Roman temple in Rome, located in Piazza della Rotonda, not far from the Trevi Fountain. With a history of nearly 2000 years, the Pantheon is the best preserved Roman structure in the world. Once a Roman temple, the Pantheon is now a Catholic church, and one of the main attractions of Rome. SHORT HISTORY Although the inscription on the frontispiece shows that it was built by Marcus Agrippa, the Roman consul, Agrippa’s temple was erected in fact during the reign of Augustus, between 27 and 25 BC, and it was destroyed in a fire in 80 AD. The facade was the only part to be saved, that was later used to rebuild the new temple. The Pantheon was rebuilt by the emperor Domitian, but it was damaged again by a fire in 110. According to tradition, the current structure was built between the years 118 and 125 AD, during the reign of Hadrian. In 609, Pope Boniface IV converted the Pantheon into a Christian church and dedicated it to Saint Mary and the Martyrs. Around that time, the church was known as Santa Maria della Rotonda or Santa Maria ad Martyres. Two kings of Read more [...]
The Basilica of San Pietro, known officially as the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican (Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano), is a Renaissance church in the Vatican City, located in Piazza San Pietro. Although the basilica is technically not in Italy, you can easily visit it during your trip to Rome, and that is why we included it among the tourist attractions of the Eternal City. The Saint Peter’s Basilica is the largest of the four papal basilicas of Rome, and is considered the largest church in the world both for its size and for its importance as the center of Catholicism. However, it is not the cathedral church of the Roman diocese, since this title belongs to the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, which is also the mother of all the Catholic churches in the world. SHORT HISTORY On this site, there was another church built during the 4th century by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, where, according to tradition, the first apostle of Jesus, Saint Peter, was buried after he was crucified by the emperor Nero. In the 15th century, under Pope Nicholas V, the Constantinian basilica underwent a radical transformation. Read more [...]
The Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza is a Baroque church in Rome dedicated to Saint Ivo of Kermartin, located in Corso del Rinascimento, about 100 meters away from Piazza Navona. SHORT HISTORY In 1632, Francesco Borromini became the main architect of Palazzo della Sapienza, the palace of the University of Rome. At that time, the layout of the courtyard of the palace was already defined by Giacomo della Porta, and a circular church with small chapels was planned. The work on the church began only in 1643, and continued for over twenty years. The first construction phase was from 1643 to 1655. After an interruption, the work resumed in 1659, with the completion of the church, the construction of the Alessandrina Library and the facades of the palace overlooking Piazza Sant’Eustachio and Via dei Canestrari. The church was consecrated in 1660, although the works continued for a few more years. The library was instead completed after the death of Francesco Borromini. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The church has a large courtyard in front. Its facade is concave, with five blind arches on each of the first two floors. The central arch on the ground floor is occupied by the Read more [...]
The Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio is a church in Rome, located in the homonymous square, on the Caelian Hill, about 700 meters away from the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. SHORT HISTORY The church was erected starting with 398 by the Roman senator Byzantis on the site of an ancient structure dating back to the first century AD. The church was used first as a domus ecclesiae (house church) by a Christian community, and then, according to tradition, became the burial ground of the Saints John and Paul, who were martyred during the reign of the emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus. In 410, the church was damaged by the Visigoths of Alaric I, during the sack of Rome, then by an earthquake in 442, and was finally destroyed by the Normans in 1084. In the 12th century, Pope Paschal II restored the church, and built the bell-tower and the portico. The structure was remodeled again in the following centuries. The church took on its current appearance in 1951, when Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman had the facade restored. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church is characterized by a portico along its entire width. Above the portico, Read more [...]
The Church of Saint Susanna at the Baths of Diocletian (Chiesa di Santa Susanna alle Terme di Diocleziano) is a beautiful church in Rome, located about 250 meters from Piazza della Repubblica. SHORT HISTORY The Church of Santa Susanna is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The original place of worship was built around the year 280 AD on the remains of three Roman villas, outside the wall of the Baths of Diocletian and the Servian Wall, the first wall built to defend the city. According to tradition, the church was built on the site of the House of Susanna, where the Saint was martyred in 294 AD. Excavations made in the 19th century, actually brought to light the remains of a Roman house from the 3rd century, now visible through the glass paving of the sacristy. Other excavations from 1990 brought to light a Roman sarcophagus with fragments of painted plaster inside. Pope Sergius I restored the church at the end of the 7th century, Pope Leo III rebuilt it from the ground in 796. In 1475, the church was rebuilt again by Pope Sixtus IV. The facade of the church was completed in Baroque style in Read more [...]
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Montesanto is a church in Rome, located in Piazza del Popolo, between Via del Corso and Via del Babuino. Although there are some differences, the edifice is popularly known as the twin church of the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, located nearby. The Basilica of Santa Maria in Montesanto has an elliptical plan and a dodecagonal dome, while its twin has a circular plan and an octagonal dome. SHORT HISTORY In the 17th century, the Basilica of Santa Maria in Montesanto replaced a small church which belonged to the Carmelite friars of the province of Monte Santo, in Sicily, hence the name. The construction began in 1662 on the initiative of Pope Alexander VII after a design by Carlo Rainaldi. Following the death of the pope in 1667, the construction works were interrupted. The works were resumed in 1673, under the direction of Carlo Fontana and the supervision of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the structure was completed in 1679. The bell-tower of the church, built on a design by Francesco Navone, was finished in 1761. In 1953, the church became the seat of the Mass of the artists, an initiative conceived by Read more [...]
The Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (Chiesa di Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore), also known as the Church of San Giacomo degli Spagnoli, is a church in Rome, located between Corso del Rinascimento and Piazza Navona. SHORT HISTORY A first church was erected on this site in the 13th century, and dedicated to Saint James the Great, the patron saint of Spain. In 1440, the church was completely rebuilt at the expense of Alfonso de Paradinas. The facade was the work of the architect Bernardo Rossellino. Pope Alexander VI Borgia ordered new expansion works on the church, widened the square in front of the entrance on Via della Sapienza, and moved to the annexed buildings the hospices for Spanish pilgrims. In 1506, the Church of San Giacomo became the national church of the Spanish community in Rome. In 1518, the church was again remodeled by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, who would later become the architect of all the papal buildings. In 1818, after a period of neglect, the church was abandoned by the Spanish community in favor of the Church of Santa Maria di Monserrato, where the furnishings and tombs were also transferred. In 1878, Read more [...]
The Church of Santa Maria di Loreto is a beautiful church located in Piazza Venezia, in Rome, close to the Trajan’s Column and the Forum of Trajan. SHORT HISTORY In 1500, the Congregation of Bakers (Congregazione dei Fornai) obtained from Pope Alexander VI a small chapel, which was demolished to build the current church. The works, based on a project by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, were started in 1507. The dome of the church was built by Giacomo del Duca in 1582. In the 19th century, the church was restored by Luca Carimini, and completed with a presbytery by Giuseppe Sacconi, the architect of the nearby National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The architecture of the church is characterized by pilasters in travertine that stand out on the brick walls, and is notable for the beauty of its proportions. The project is characterized by simple overlapping volumes – the body of the church with a square plan, surmounted by the octagonal volume of the drum, on which is placed the dome. At the top of the dome, we can find the lantern, with a very elaborate shape. The interior is octagonal in shape, with Read more [...]
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli is a church located on the Capitoline Hill, in Rome, known for housing the relics of Saint Helena, mother of emperor Constantine the Great. SHORT HISTORY A first church was built on this site in the 6th century, on the ruins of a Temple dedicated to Juno Moneta. In the 9th century, the church was taken over by the papacy. Near the end of the 12th century, Palazzo Senatorio (Senatorial Palace) was built on the Capitoline Hill, and the area started to develop. In 1250, Pope Innocent IV granted the ownership of the church to the Franciscan Order. The Franciscans restored the church, giving it its current Romanesque-Gothic appearance. The imposing marble staircase was built in 1348, as a vow to the Virgin, to put an end to the plague that raged throughout Europe. During the occupation of Rome, in 1797, the French took possession of the hill, killing the Franciscan friars and reducing the church to a stable. The restorations of the church began as early as 1799, the small Temple of Saint Helena was rebuilt in 1833, and the new organ of the choir was inaugurated in 1848. With the Read more [...]