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The most important churches to visit in Rome

October, 06 2016 ( Updated August, 09 2017)

Italy
Rome
Church
Historical
The churches of Rome, which are about 900 in number, are among the most important sights of pilgrimage for Christians from all over the world. Each of these churches has an important place in the religious history of Christendom. But these churches also attract a lot of visitors and tourists for their historical and architectural importance. These magnificent structures house many important chapters from the political, religious, social and artistic history of Rome in particular and Western civilization in general in the form of statues, relics, paintings and other such things. We list here some of the churches which every tourist visiting Rome should visit:

St. Peter’s Church:

St. Peter’s Church is Italy’s largest, biggest and among the most important churches. Many consider it the finest building ever erected in human history, which is hardly an exaggeration. The church, which stands on the 4th-century church constructed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine I in the place where St. Peter is believed to be buried, took about 120 years to build. The present church is an architectural marvel, both in terms of its construction and the fine example of Renaissance art which have been kept here or etched on its walls. The church can accommodate about 60,000 visitors. Once you are here, make a point to appreciate the various works of art here, such as Michelangelo’s Pietà, his soaring dome, and Bernini’s 29m-high baldachin over the papal altar. Also, climb the stairs to the dome and appreciate the view of the Vatican City. Make sure that you are dressed properly because the church observes a strict dress code.

Basilica of Saint Mary Major:

The church dates back to 4th century BC and is dedicated to Virgin Mary and the feminine principle of Christianity. It is the only church which retains its original structure. As you enter the church you will be taken in by the 5th-century mosaics which depict scenes from the Old Testament and early life of Christ. The medieval bell tower of the Church is the highest in Rome. It is believed that the site of the church on the Esquiline hill was chosen after a sudden snowfall in the particular area which was taken as a divine indication. The statues, painting, and frescoes depict important stories and beliefs from the Bible.

Pantheon:

The Pantheon is probably the only structure which has been in constant use since its construction nearly two thousand years ago. Once a pagan temple, the structure has been converted into a magnificent Church now. That is precisely why the church might appear different from other churches in Rome. The building is considered the ancient Romans' greatest architectural achievement. It was the largest cupola in the world until the 15th century and is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in existence which is a matter of great awe and inspiration. Though the structure looks its age, it was widely studied during Renaissance and is believed to have inspired a number of artists and architectures.

Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano:

This church is the first Church built by the first Christian emperor of Rome, Constantine I in the 4th century BC. The church has undergone several attempts to revamp and a number of new additions were made during the Renaissance period. San Giovanni Laterano Basilica, and not the St. Peter’s Church, is the official seat of the Pope. It has always remained one of the most important churches in the world, though its popularity has been overshadowed by the magnificent church in the Vatican city. Until the 14th century, it was the main place of worship and is still the official Church of Rome. The church is especially interesting because many of its elements like the huge gates are brought from the ancient Roman buildings of political and strategic importance. Beholding the magnificent façade and the enormously huge statues of Christ and the 12 apostles are a life-changing experience.

Santa Maria in Trastevere:

This church is considered to be the oldest church dedicated to Saint Mary. The original structure dates back to the 3rd century BC. However, a major makeover happened in the 12th century when the Romanesque bell tower and the façade were added. It is popularly believed that the spot where the church stands, once saw a fountain of oil which miraculously sprang from the ground. The church is a treasure trove of historically important art and structures, such as the 21 ancient Roman columns, wooden ceilings, and some of the best Byzantine mosaics of Italy.

Other churches which should not be missed are Basilica of San Clemente known for its incredible frescoes and mosaics, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva which is built on the site of pagan god Minerva(the Pagan goddess of Wisdom) and the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo which houses some of the best examples of works by Renaissance artists, including Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio. These churches are close to other important tourist sites which can be clubbed together so that tourists can make the most of their trip to Rome.
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