Rome, the Holy City is the centre of the Roman Catholic Church from where the Pope looks after his followers spread all around the world. There are more places of religious significance in Rome than in any other city in the world. Choosing the ten top religious sites in Rome is not an easy task, when there are so many awe inspiring locations to choose between. Here is a list of the more important sites that represent what are widely considered to be the most religiously significant.
1. St Peter’s Basilica
It wasn’t only at the Coliseum where many Christians were martyred, but at the Circus of Gaius and Nero as well. It is this historical place of entertainment that St Peter’s Basilica was built.
2. Tre Fontane Abbey
According to Christian tradition, Paul the Apostle became a martyr outside the Roman walls. Tre Fontane, or Three Fountains, is so called because legend tell us that when Paul the Apostle was beheaded, his severed head bounced three times causing three fountains to spring up from the spots his head had touched. Although this fountain story remains purely legendary, the exact spot where he gave up his life for Christ is indeed historical.
3. Vatican Museum
The Vatican Museum is a series of museums and is home to some of the most finest and most important historical works of art not only in Italy, but the entire world. Originally the museum served as papal palaces, but was later turned into several galleries that include frescoes from the High Renaissance displayed in the Raphael Rooms and Sistine Chapel.
4. Sistine Chapel
The chapel is famous for the masterpiece created by Michelangelo in 1483, depicting a series of frescoes with scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as The Creation of the World. The frescoes also include works from Botticelli, Perugino and Ghirlandaio.
5. Basilica of Saint Paul
The Basilica of Saint Paul was constructed by the Roman Emperor Constantine, to mark the death place of Paul the Apostle. Over centuries, the basilica has been beautified and redecorated with 80 columns and a stucco-decorated ceiling with a crypt that lies beneath, housing Saint Paul’s tomb and sarcophagus.
6. San Giovanni in Laterano
San Giovanni in Laterano, stands as the oldest cathedral in Rome, consecrated in 324 A.D and is ranked one of the four major basilicas in the capital. It features a large gold painted throne and acts as a shrine in honour of the two saints, Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. Located to the side of the cathedral is the Lateran Palace and a tall obelisk stands in the square in front.
7. San Pietro in Vincoli
San Pietro in Vincoli, also known as Basilica Eudoxiana, dates back to the fifth century and houses the chains believed to have been used to imprison Saint Peter in the Jerusalem. The interior of the church has undergone several restorations, and now features the huge statue of Moses by Michelangelo, a mosaic by Saint Sebastian, as well as a ceiling fresco called The Miracle of the Chains.
8. Santa Maria Maggiore
As one of the four important papal churches, and as the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore houses magnificent Biblical mosaics that date back to the fifth century. The bell tower, marble floor and decorative mosaics, that feature throughout the Triumphal arch and the naves are considered to be of medieval style. The magnificent ceiling is known to be adorned with the gold that Columbus brought from brought from Latin America and under the altar sits the Crypt of the Nativity, which is believed to contain wood from the Holy Crib.
9. Santa Maria in Trastevere
Santa Maria in Trastevere remains one of the oldest churches of Rome and is said to be the city’s first ever church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The church is most famous for the mosaics that can be found throughout and behind the altar, which date back to the 13th century.
10. Santa Maria del Popolo
uggestion: Santa Maria del Popolo is an Augustinian church in Rome, situated in the Piazza del Popolo, underneath Villa Borghese and the Pincio viewpoint. The church is famous for Caravaggio’s “Conversion of Saint Paul” as well as “Martyrdom of Saint Peter”. The church has six chapels within its walls, including the Chigi Chapel, designed by Bernini. This features a mosaic depicting the Creation of the World in High Renaissance design.
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