When talking about traveling to Rome, it is almost impossible to avoid discussing the city’s magnificent churches.
Understandably, churches such as St. Peter’s Basilica, The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Pantheon are the first to be mentioned. However, there are countless others that are unjustly left out of conversation. Aside from being holy places of worship and aesthetically beautiful, churches and basilicas in Rome are world-renowned for their historical and artistic significance. In most cases, their high vaulted ceilings and towering walls are decorated with works by artists such as Bernini, Caravaggio, and Filippino Lippi. Due to sheer quantity, it can be difficult to decide which of these sites to visit. Fortunately, we have compiled a short list of five churches to visit while in Rome.
St. Clement’s Basilica
Dedicated to Pope Clement I, St. Clement’s Basilica is located several away blocks from the Colosseum and houses a collection of incredible twelfth-century mosaics. However, the basilica is literally the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in regards to historical and archeological significance. Below the basilica lies the foundation of another Christian church, built in the fourth-century by Titus Flavius Clemens. Further still underground lies the foundation of a first-century pagan temple, dedicated to Mithras and used for rituals until the rise of Roman Catholicism. Via Labicana 95.
Santa Maria Trastevere
Located in the historic Trastevere district of Rome, Santa Maria Trastevere is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The church is most regularly celebrated for its belltower, ornate altar, and breathtaking twelfth- and thirteenth-century golden mosaics. It was founded during the third century by Pope Callistus I, prior to the popularization of Christianity. Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Church of St. Louis of the French
Despite being an excellent example of Renaissance architecture and its location near the ever-popular Piazza Navona, San Luigi dei Francesi (Church of St. Louis of the French) is best known for its collection of Caravaggio works. The murals include The Calling of St. Matthew, The Martyrdom of St. Matthew, and St. Matthew and the Angel. Piazza di S. Luigi de' Francesi.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
Built on the site of temples dedicated to the Roman goddess Minerva, the Egyptian goddess Isis and the Greco-Egyptian god Serapis, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is Rome’s singular Gothic church. The basilica was built by Pope Zacharias and features elegant arches, pillars, and vaulted ceilings accented by blue and gold. Piazza della Minerva 42.
Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo
According to legend, the ghost of Roman Emperor Nero haunts the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo and all who dare to enter the church. The basilica also features the work of many celebrated Renaissance artists, including Raphael, Bernini, Caravaggio, Bramante, Pinturicchio, and many more. It is located beside a beautiful piazza sharing its namesake. Piazza del Popolo 12.