Rome has been a Catholic state through history. As the Capital of the Occidental Empire, it’s natural that over time, churches bloomed all over the city. Now, churches can be found in every corner of Rome, of all sizes and styles. If you’re interested in touring churches on your trip, what are the 5 must-see churches in Rome?
As a disclaimer, you need to visit the four papal basilicas in Rome: St. John in Lateran, St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. Besides these major ones, here are the churches in Rome you can’t miss.
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1. Santa Maria in Trastevere
This church leaves visitors breathless. It is located in one of the most famous neighborhoods, Santa Maria in Trastevere. This church was built during the papacy of Callistus I, and is one of the oldest churches in Rome.
Golden mosaics adorn both the outside and the inside, and a majestic clock on the bell tour gives the building a sense of peace and protection. Over the centuries, it became one of the symbols of Rome.
Masses are celebrated both in English and in Italian.
Visiting the church of St. Louis of the French can be both a religious and cultural experience. The beautiful paintings by Caravaggio enhance the solemnity of the place. It is definitely one of the 5 must-see churches in Rome, in terms of beauty, art and location.
The Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem was build in the beginning of the fourth century. Building began after St. Helena, Constantine’s mother, brought a large number of holy relics from Jerusalem. Among these relics were thorns from the Crown of Thorns and pieces of the True Cross Christ was crucified on. These and other relics remain in the basilica today.
The Pilgrimage of the Seven Churches is a major pilgrimage that takes place twice a year. It lists the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem as one of the main stops.
The importance the basilica has today makes it one of the 5 must-see churches in Rome.
4. Santa Maria in Aracoeli
It is worth going up the numerous steps to enjoy the beauty and holiness of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Though the outside of the church may lead you to think there are more beautiful churches to see, once you step inside you will understand why you can’t miss it. The breathtaking interior will leave you speechless.
The church’s column are one of its most unique traits. Each column is different, as they used to belong to ancient Roman buildings. This results in an ornate collage of history and architecture, and makes the church one of the most beautiful churches Rome has to offer.
5. San Clemente
Layers of history form this marvelous church. The deeper you go, the further back in history you will find yourself. San Clemente church was initially a house containing the shrine of god Mythras until the early Christians built a church around 380 A.D.
It was then destroyed and built again so many times that the first layers are far below the street level. It always maintained its beauty and holiness, with mosaics in the inside narrating both the Old and the New Testament.
San Clemente Basilica is by no doubt one of the 5 must-see churches in Rome.
For more info about the 5 must-see churches in Rome, where to find them and how to get there, contact one of our locals and you will be guaranteed a stress-free vacation!
©Photo Credits: Mosaic of Santa Maria in Trastevere (Photo by Gary Ullah); Organ of St. Louis of the French (Photo by Tango7174); Inside of the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem (Photo by Livioandronico2013); Inside Basilica di S.Clemente (Photo by mppp)