The Most Beautiful Churches in Rome
Italy is one of the Catholic countries in Europe, and its capital, Rome, has been the center of Catholic Christianity since the days of the Roman Empire. Proof of this is the small country enclaved in it, Vatican City, which serves as the center of world Catholic Christianity led by the Pope. Rome alone has more than 900 (!) churches, a fact that establishes it as one of the European cities "full" of churches. Entering many of them (mostly free) will reveal to you a huge collection of beautiful works of art, which turns the churches into works of art in themselves (you can see works by the artist of Caravaggio, for example, in more than three churches in Rome). If we managed to intrigue you, then get some of the most beautiful churches in Rome according to Romio:
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is perhaps the most famous church in the world, the “Jerusalem” of the Vatican City. This is its central structure, the largest in the Christian world. It was opened to the public in the 16th century and has since been used as a pilgrimage site, the mother church of Catholic Christianity and one of the holiest sites for Christianity. According to belief, Saint Peter is buried there (one of the twelve apostles of Christ and the first Pope). It is a beautiful church in the Renaissance and Baroque style and it greatly influenced architecture in Italy and architecture in general. The great artist Michelangelo created the dome, which became an example for others to follow in the world, and inside the church are some of his works (as well as works by Raphael, Bernini and Barmenta). The church is loaded with magnificent works of art such as wall paintings and sculptures, and every corner of it is real candy for the eyes. The advantage is that visiting it does not require a passport or payment, just patience in the long queues of curious people from all over the world. Warning – visiting Rome without visiting the Vatican is a criminal offense! (just kidding).
Special – mother of all churches in Rome (and probably also in the world).
Address: Piazza San Pietro
“Pantheon” is a Greek word that means “all the gods”, and indeed this circular structure was once a temple to the gods. It was built in the 1st century AD and was then used as a temple, meeting place and court. It is one of the oldest sites in Rome and the best preserved building from the Roman Empire, and travelers from all over the world come to see it. Since the Renaissance it has become a burial place for important people such as the artist Raphael and kings, and in the 7th century it was converted into a church called “Santa Maria Rotunda”. Its impressive dome is among the largest ever built and is considered an engineering marvel (Michelangelo was inspired by it in building the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica). Also, the Greek influence is evident in the construction of the Pantheon on columns and in its wide entrance. It is also known for the opening in the center of the dome, the “eye” that leaves the inner space open to the caressing rays of the sun. Inside the building you will also admire the columns, the marble work, the doors and the bronze ceiling and the interior decorations. The Pantheon – an integral part of the Pantheon of Rome!
Special – the most preserved structure from ancient Rome.
Address: Piazza della Rotonda
Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere
The Basilica “Saint Mary in Trastevere” is dedicated to Mary and is, as mentioned, in the district of Trastevere, a very touristic district in Rome. It was built (probably) in 350 AD and hence it is one of the oldest in Rome. This is probably the first church that hosted religious ceremonies and is one of the most important in the city. Its style is Romanesque and it differs in shape from the great churches from the Renaissance. Some of Rome’s most important artefacts were transferred to it, such as columns from the Baths of Caracalla, and many religious relics are found there, such as the head of Saint Apollonia. It is especially known for the special mosaics that decorate it from the 12th and 13th centuries. They depict the life of Mary, and among them are Byzantine mosaics and mosaics by the artist Cavallini. Also, there are 22 impressive Roman columns. You should sit by the fountain outside the church and “absorb” its beauty from there. Don’t miss it on your visit to Trastevere!
Special – amazing mosaics.
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere
Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore
The “Holy and Great Mary” basilica is the first and largest built in the name of the Virgin Mary. It was built in the 5th century on the Esquilino hill near the district of Monti, and is a center of pilgrimage, one of the four most important and largest patriarchal basilicas in the city. Its location was chosen following the legend about a vision of Pope Liberius, according to which Mary ordered him to build a church in the place where it had snowed for Moharat; The snow fell on the Esquilino hill in the morning of the previous day, hence its location. It is one of the oldest churches in the city and was built in the Roman style to emphasize the dominance of the Western Church as the “successor” of the Roman Empire. This massive church contains art and artifacts that represent Christianity and the civilization of Rome. Its space is decorated in a Byzantine style and its ceiling is inlaid with gold (according to the belief it came from Christopher Columbus from his journey in the New World). Its entrance floor is made of marble and its chapels were designed by famous artists such as Michelangelo. It has a high altar, 36 marble columns, four granite columns, mosaics, pictures, magnificent sculptures and many other treasures!
Special – represents the early Christian basilica.
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
We will finish with one of the four most important, largest and oldest basilicas, the Papal Archbasilica of Saint John in Laterano. It is in the district of Laterano, not far from the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It is named after John the Baptist and John the Gospel writer and is considered the official cathedral of the world and of Rome (contrary to the popular belief that it is St. Peter’s Basilica). It is also considered the “home cathedral” of the Pope and the Diocese of Rome. The church was founded in the 4th century and it is believed to be the first Catholic church in the city. And if these titles are not enough, then it is also the oldest basilica in the Western world! Important people are also buried there, six popes to be precise. The architectural style of the church is Baroque, and don’t let the relatively modest exterior fool you – this is a particularly beautiful church! It has everything – wall decorations, columns, paintings, a glittering gold ceiling, mosaics, statues of apostles, bronze doors, an impressive floor and much more!
Special – the official throne of the Pope.
Address: Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano
Rome is a city full of surprises, and one of them is the fascinating and impressive churches it has to offer. They are an integral part of the checklist of every beginner tourist, and do not fall short of classic attractions in the city. The churches have long been not only religious centers, as many of them also represent history, architecture and mesmerizing art. You will find evidence of this in our short list of some of the devastating beauties of Rome’s churches, every millimeter of which is an architectural and artistic diamond. All that remains is to say “Hallelujah” to all this beauty!