Façade of Rome basilica shines again after year-long restoration.
The façade of the Basilica di S. Maria in Trastevere, one of Rome's oldest churches, has returned to its original splendour following a restoration by the city's superintendency of archaeology and fine arts.
The restoration works, which lasted about a year and cost €400,000, included cleaning the 12th-century mosaics, the 18th-century marble surfaces and the 19th-century frescoes. According to tradition, a christian house-church was founded on the site in the third century by Pope Callixtus I, with the building expanded in the fourth century by Pope Julius I.
Over the subsequent centuries the church underwent numerous major renovations and is most noted for its coffered gold ceiling which is embellished with ornate carvings and paintings. The current structure, including the exterior mosaic, dates to the 12th century, when the building was rebuilt at the behest of Pope Innocent II, using marble capitals believed to have been taken from the Baths of Caracalla.
The church façade was restored in 1702 by architect Carlo Fontana while during the late 19th century Rome painter Silverio Capparoni added the mural surrounding the mosaic of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus flanked by 10 women holding lamps.
Half of the restoration funds were sanctioned by the government while the other half came from the takings at the Colosseum, 30 per cent of which are received by the superintendent's office, according to Italian news agency ANSA.