Regarded as the center of religion and pilgrimage in the world for many centuries, Rome has been tagged as ‘The Eternal City’ by ancient Roman poets and writers and by the modern world today. The city has been the home of the Roman Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome, otherwise known as the Pope. With a history that spans for more than two and a half thousand years, the city is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Rome has over 900 churches spread over the entire city, representing people’s faith and beliefs. Each of this church has its own history and treasures that are worth a look and a visit.
But of course, since a visit to all of these 900 churches are impossible especially to those who are just in the city for a couple of days, we have these Famous Churches in Rome, Italy that are popular for tourists visiting Rome. Consider including a visit to some of these churches and discover their magic.
Table of Contents
- 1. Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura
- 2. Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem
- 3. Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
- 4. Basilica San Clemente
- 5. Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano
- 6. Church of Sant’Ignazio Di Loyola
- 7. Saint Peter’s Basilica
- 8. San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane
- 9. San Luigi dei Francesi
- 10. San Pietro in Vincoli
- 11. Sant’Andrea della Valle
- 12. Santa Maria degli Angeli e Martiri
- 13. Santa Maria del Popolo
- 14. Santa Maria in Aracoeli
- 15. Santa Maria in Cosmedin
- 16. Santa Maria in Trastevere
- 17. Sant’Agnese in Agone
- 18. The Pantheon
1. Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura
Location: Via Ostiense 184, Rome, Italy (Ostiense)
The Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura otherwise known as St. Paul Outside the Walls, is the second largest church in Rome. The church was built by Constantine in the 4th century on the site where St Paul was buried after being decapitated in AD 67. One of the highlights of the basilica is the papal portraits beneath the nave windows. Legend says that when there is no room for the next portrait of the pope on the wall, the world will fall.
2. Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem
Location: Piazza Santa Croce, Rome, Italy
Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem or the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, is one of the Seven Pilgrims Churches of Rome. Aside from the impressive artworks displayed inside the church, one of the main highlights that everyone should see is the fragments of the Holy Cross of Jesus, found by St. Helena on Calvarium in Jerusalem. This is one of the Relics of the Passion of Jesus in the Chapel of Relics, which is located upstairs the left aisles.
3. Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
Location: Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, Italy
One of Rome’s four Patriarchal Basilicas, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore was built under Sisto III in dedication to Mary’s motherhood. It is also believed that the church was constructed by the order of Pope Liberio who saw the Virgin Mary in his dreams and indicated him to construct the church through a snow fall that happened on the Esquilino Hill. The church has important chapels on the side aisles including the Sistine Chapel, Paoline Chapel, Cross Chapel, Saint Michael’s and Saint Peter in Chains Chapel, Cesi Chapel of the XVI century and the Sforza Chapel.
4. Basilica San Clemente
Location: Via Labicana 95 | Via San Giovanni in Laterano Piazza San Clemente, 00184 Rome, Italy
The Basilica San Clemente is an ancient ruin and a religious site in Rome where three churches has been built one above the other. Its magnificent frescoes and its twelfth-century mosaic of the Cross as the Tree of Life is one of the highlights of the church not to mention the art and history of the Christian Faith that can be learned in its halls.
5. Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano
Location: Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano 4, Rome, Italy
Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano has been the most important church in Christendom for a thousand years since it was the first Christian basilica built in the city and the pope’s main place of worship until the late 14th century. The church houses the Renaissance tomb of Pope Martin V. Aside from the amazing interior and the 15 7 m-high statues, the church is also the home of the monument of Pope Sylvester II which is believed to to sweat and creak when the death of a pope is imminent.
6. Church of Sant’Ignazio Di Loyola
Location: Piazza S. Ignazio, Rome, Italy
The Church of Sant’Ignazio Di Loyola is considered to be one of the most important Jesuit church in Rome. The church boasts of a Carlo Maderno facade and a celebrated trompe l’oeil ceiling fresco by Andrea Pozzo, which is a must-see.
7. Saint Peter’s Basilica
Location: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Rome, Italy
Among the many churches in Rome, Saint Peter’s Basilica is the most celebrated. The original basilica was built in 324 and has been the center of Christiandom for more than a thousand years. Its magnificent structure is home to the Christian faith and houses its many relics, vestments and precious objects in the Treasure Rooms. The remains of the ancient Basilica, the tomb of St. Peter and those of the popes are buried below the church.
8. San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane
Location: Rome, Italy (Trevi)
The San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane or Church of Saint Charles at the Four Fountains is a Roman Catholic Church with an iconic masterpiece of Baroque architecture. The church is popularly known as San Carlino and was built as part of a complex of monastic buildings on the Quirinal Hill for the Spanish Trinitarians. Its exterior is one of the main highlights of the church including the four fountains on each of the corners of the intersection, which the church was named for.
9. San Luigi dei Francesi
Location: Via Santa Giovanna d’Arco 5, 00186 Rome, Italy
San Luigi dei Francesi is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and titular church in Rome, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to St. Denis the Areopagite and St. Louis IX, king of France. The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi is the home to the famed paintings of Caravaggio, a Renaissance master. The Calling of Saint Matthew, St. Matthew and the Angel and the Martyrdom of St. Matthew are displayed inside the church.
10. San Pietro in Vincoli
Location: Piazza San Pietro in Vincoli 4A, 00184 Rome, Italy
The San Pietro in Vincoli or St. Peter in Chains is a 5th-century church built to house the chains that bound St Peter when he was imprisoned in the Carcere Mamertino. Aside from the chains, Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses that adorns the incomplete tomb of Pope Julius II can also be seen in the church.
11. Sant’Andrea della Valle
Location: Piazza Vidoni, 6, Rome, Italy
Sant’Andrea della Valle is a basilica church in Rome where the religious order of the Theatines is seated. Aside from its Baroque facade, the basilica is also noted by the cenotaphs of Popes Pius II and Pius III, who are buried in the church which it houses and the fountain of Carlo Maderno.
12. Santa Maria degli Angeli e Martiri
Location: Via Cernaia, 9, Rome, Italy
Santa Maria degli Angeli e Martiri, otherwise known as Santa Maria degli Angeli, is a unique Renaissance church in Rome built inside the Roman walls of the Baths of Diocletian. The church has a unique exterior with its outer walls consist in part of the brick of the Baths of Diocletian.
13. Santa Maria del Popolo
Location: Piazza del Popolo 12, Rome, Italy
Famed for its wealthy Renaissance Art, the Santa Maria del Popolo Church was built in the 15th century. Works of Pinturicchio, Raphael, Carracci, Caravaggio and Bernini are displayed on the building’s walls and ceilings.
14. Santa Maria in Aracoeli
Location: Piazza d’Aracoeli, Rome, Italy (Sant’Angelo / Ghetto)
The Santa Maria in Aracoeli or St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven is built on the foundations of the ancient temple of the Roman goddess Juno. It is considered to be one of the oldest basilicas in Rome. Originally, the church was named as Santa Maria in Capitolio but it was later changed to Santa Maria in Aracoeli after a medieval legend was brought up. Aside from the large stairway that leads up the hill to the church’s main entrance, the church also houses exquisite artworks.
15. Santa Maria in Cosmedin
Location: Piazza della Bocca della Verita 18, Rome, Italy (Ripa / Aventino)
Santa Maria in Cosmedin is regarded as one of the best example of medieval ecclesiastic architecture. One of the main highlights in visiting the church is the famous Bocca Della Verità, or “Mouth of Truth” which is located in the portico of the church.
16. Santa Maria in Trastevere
Location: Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome, Italy (Trastevere)
The Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches in Rome and considered to be the finest of the churches in Trastevere. The church is best known for its magnificent mosaics that decorates the interior and exterior of the church.
17. Sant’Agnese in Agone
Location: Piazza navona, Rome, Italy
A 17th century Baroque church, the Sant’Agnese in Agone faces onto the Piazza Navona. The church houses the shrine for Saint Agnes, containing her skull.
18. The Pantheon
Location: Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, Italy
The Pantheon was created as a temple for all the pagan gods and still stands today as a reminder of the great Roman Empire. The temple is notable for its 43 meter high dome which was once the largest dome in the world. The temple was converted into a church in 609 and now contains the tombs of the famous artist Raphael and of several Italian kings.
Looking to book tickets? Here are some tours that might interest you!
1. Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica Tour
2. Vatican Museums
3. Rome Hop On Hop Off Panoramic Bus Tour
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