The largest city of Italy and of the Lazio region, Rome is famous for being the home of Roman Empire. Also, the Seven Hills, La Dolce Vita, the Vatican City and Three Coins in the Fountain. An intoxicating blend of haunted ruins, awe-inspiring art and vibrant street art. Murals to be precise. Rome is one of the world’s most romantic and charismatic cities.
And, when we talk of the cityscape, it’s an exhilarating site. All thanks to the result of 3000 years of ad-hoc urban development. With such an expansive civilization, civilization, Rome does have a lot of notable historical landmarks. In this article, we would guide you in detail about the prominent churches in Rome. There are big gems as well as lesser known gems. The city which boasts of around 900 churches in total is the best place to discover stunning religious architecture.
Considered as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the fascinating history of the churches is quite alluring. Some of the most amazing would be St. Peter’s Church, the Sistine Chapel, St. John Lateran, Vatican Church and so on. Let’s take a look at some of them.
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Best churches in Rome
Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter’s Basilica)
St. Peter’s Church Rome is arguably one of the finest pieces of architecture the world has ever witnessed. It’s like the big daddy of all the best churches in Rome and specifically of the Vatican Church. Yes, the church is a Vatican Church located in the Vatican City. And, when here are 900 of them, being the best is not a funny joke. The church is one unmissable sight during any visit of Rome.
Basically the church is dedicated to the Apostle who is believed to have been the first bishop of Rome. Built under the patronage of Emperor Constantine, the original church of St. Peter’s was dedicated in 326. Tourists and avid travelers come down from various corners of the world to soak in the spectacular view of the architecture. The humongous dome to be specific. St. Peters Church Rome is located in the Vatican City and acts as a headquarters of the entire Catholic Church.
It was Michaelangelo who had designed the basilica. And, now, it’s considered as one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture in existence. Known to be a treasury of the church ornaments and home to the tombs of popes, the basilica’s interior is astounding. The interior is as magnificent as the exterior. While you are ST. Peter’s Church Rome, make sure that you have enough time to scale the 551 steps to the top of the cupola.
- Address: St Peter’s Basilica, Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City.
- Entry Fees: 8 Euros by foot, 10 Euros by Elevator
The Sistine Chapel
A wonder to behold, with superb frescoes covering each inch of the wall. Sistine Chapel is definitely another gem in the city of Rome and the European continent. Michaelangelo did climb up a scaffold in 1508 to begin with painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
It’s one of the best Vatican Church. Located inside the Vatican museums, the exquisite detail done in the chapel’s decoration is simply mind blowing. Paintings of over 1000 square meters retell the entire history of Man. The ceiling which we had mentioned about was painted by Michaelangelo over a course of 4 years. A true masterpiece of art, and is considered one of the world’s greatest treasures. Talking of it’s architecture, the chapel is a simple brick building with six arched windows. On the two main side walls and on the barrel-vaulted ceiling. The exterior of the chapel is quite unassuming and it’s unlike for a passerby to get attracted.
- Address: Cappella Sistina, Vatican City, 00120, Vatican City
- Entry Fee: 16 Euros (Adult), 8 Euros (Children: 6-18), 8 Euros (Students: 19-26)
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Church of Santi Michele e Magno
One of the hidden gems of the city of Rome and a Vatican Church, it is situated on a small hill called Palazzuolo. The church is not easy to find and the ones who are well aware would get to see the charming beauty. Palazzuolo is basically seen rising from the left of Piazza di San Pietro.
To reach the church, you need to walk along Borgo di Santo Spirito, a parallel running street to Via della Conciliazione. As you reach Largo degli Alicorni, climb a steep flight of steps. To your left, you would somewhat recognize the simple exterior of Church of Santi Michele e Magno. The church had hosted two important relics since the 1990’s. First was the stone where Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem. And, the other is the stone where Abraham bound Issac.
In the 12th century the church was re-built. There’s a high alter painting that shows Michael the Archangel appearing before saints Gregory and Magnus. A left alter painting depicts Saints Peter and Paul, a work by Ludovico Stern.
- Address: Borgo Santo Spirito, 21/41, 00193 Roma RM, Italy
- Entry Fee: Free
The Basilica of Saint Maria del Popolo
St. Maria del Popolo is one of the best churches in Rome right after St. Peter’s. The church comprises of several chapels and each luxurious than the other. The interiors of the church are practically a showcase of the finest Renaissance art. It is also considered as one of the first Renaissance churches in Rome. According to the legends, the church was enlarged from a chapel built to drive away the evil spirit of Nero.
It is also known as the place to find the greatest masterpieces painted by the likes of Caravaggio, Bernini and Raphael. The setting of the church on the elegant Piazza del Popolo accentuated the beauty which gradually permeated the entire monument.
- Address: Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo, Rome, Italy.
- Entry Fee: Free
Built in the year 118, Pantheon is one of the most gorgeous churches in Rome.
Gorgeous would be an understatement to describe the vastness of the monument. It looks more like an elegant relic and one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome. The monument has a vast cupola which lets in the only light. It leaves the interior open to the elements. And, throughout the day, the circular beam of light plays across the interiors.
Tourists come down to just see that spectacle from such far-off places. It was in the 17th century that the early Christians turned the Pantheon into a church. Originally, the Pantheon had been a temple dedicated to all the Roman Gods. As you enter through the immense bronze doors, you would come in terms with it’s vastness. That’s the reason; the building has been termed as an icon of early Roman architecture. One of the finest examples actually. The structure is also home to the tombs of Italy’s best monarchs and beloved artist, Raphael.
- Address: Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, Italy.
- Entry Fee: 2 Euros
The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
One of the most important churches in Rome, it’s a pilgrimage church which looks nothing less than a jewel. Gleaming marble, high ceiling with sparkling golden architecture, soaring columns. It’s the only church in Rome to have celebrated mass every single day since the fifth-century. A vision which had come to fourth-century Pope Liberius determined the location of the basilica.
The vision was something like this as legends say – the Virgin directed him to build a church where the snow fell the following day. And, when snowfall did happen on the Esquiline the following morning, the Pope ordered the church built. The date was August 5. The magnificent beauty of the church astounds travelers as soon as they cross the threshold there. It’s believed that the gold which glistens on the fabulous ceiling was brought back by Columbus from the New World. On the 5th of August, every year, the church plays host to the Miracle of Snows celebration. It’s done to celebrate the legend of the church’s founding. You should actually come down during this period to enjoy a spectacle. Thousands of white petals being dropped from the ceiling during this iconic Roman celebration.
- Address: Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Piazza di S. Maria Maggiore, 42, Rome, Italy.
- Entry Fee: 3 Euros (Museum admission cost)
San Giovanni in Laterano
There’s an inscription on the entrance of the church that say, “Mater et caput omnium ecclesiarum urbis et orbis”. It means, “Mother and head of all the churches of the city and world”. The construction of this church started in 313 and was gradually enlarged and altered repeatedly. And, then it was completely re-built in the 16th and 17th centuries. One of the most prominent churches in Rome, the wide entrance is adorned with huge statues done by Alessandro Galilei.
It’s considered as a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. The doors are made of bronze which came from the ancient Curia in the Forum. A magnificent timber ceiling dates from the 16th century. Fine mosaics and faithful copies of Christian originals can be found behind the presbytery. There’s one octagonal baptistery, San Giovanne in Fonte, whuch was built by Constantine. It was on the site of a Roman nymphaeum in the Lateran Palace. It’s one of the most beautiful churches in Rome and definitely a must-see when you visit the city.
- Address: Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano 4, Rome.
- Entry Fee: 2 Euros
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