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Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome

4.8
#12 of 526 in Historic Sites in Rome
Discover more than 17 centuries of Roman at Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the city's oldest churches. Dating back to the fourth century, the house of worship is in the trendy Trastevere central neighborhood. Stand out front to see the 12th- and 13th-century mosaics on the facade. Head inside to admire the 22 granite columns taken from ancient city ruins or impressive Baroque decor. For Santa Maria in Trastevere and beyond, use our Rome online route planner to get the most from your Rome vacation.
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  • Spectacular for the mosaics inside preserved in an egregious manner, like the altars on the sides of the church something spectacular to see absolutely.....
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  • The basilica, according to tradition, was founded by Pope Callisto I (217 - 222), in the place where oil flowed from the ground, and carried out by Julius I (337 - 352). During the 8th and 9th centuries, the aisles were added, the presbytery was rearranged and the confession excavated, in which the spoils of some martyrs were placed, including those of St Callisto, founder of the basilica. The current architectural structure dates back to the reconstruction carried out in 1138 - 1148, with material partly of bare coming from the Baths of Caracalla, and wanted by Pope Innocent II (1130 - 1143). The pontiff was unable to see the completion and decoration of the basilica, but left, however, the economic means necessary to complete the work. In the 16th century, Austrian Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps (1533 – 1595) built the Chapel of Our Lady of Clemency and some of the lateral chapels designed by Martino Longhi the Elder. In 1702, Pope Clement XI had the porch re-built and the facade modified by Carlo Fontana. During the pontificate of Pius IX, between 1866 and 1877, the church underwent an extensive restoration by the architect Virginio Vespignani.La facade preserves at the top a mosaic of the thirteenth century, depicting Mary on the throne nursing the Child: she is flanked by ten women bearing lamps. The facade is preceded by the porch designed by Carlo Fontana (1702). On the top of the Romanesque bell tower, you can see a mosaic depicting Our Lady with Child, in a niche. Inside, three aisles on Ionian columns and Corinthian arched, you can see the beautiful wooden ceiling, designed by Domenichino (also author of the Assumption in the center) and some paintings dating back to the restoration of the nineteenth century, under Pope Pius IX. In the first chapel of the right aisle is Santa Francesca Romana by Giacomo Zoboli and in the second chapel the Nativity of Tienne Parrocel. In the apse's conca you can admire a mosaic depicting the Virgin and Christ assisi on the same throne (12th century), adorned, at the bottom, by Stories of the Virgin, also mosaic, the work of Pietro Cavallini (1291). According to an accredited hypothesis (Ernst Kitzinger) the iconography of the Absidal Catino is probably allusive to the great procession that in the Middle Ages was held in Rome on the night of the Assumption. On this occasion the acheropithet icon of the Savior from the Lateran was solemnly led to Santa Maria Maggiore, in front of the famous icon of the Roman Salus populi. Almost a hug between Mother and Son. The procession also included an intermediate stop at another important Marian church, Santa Maria Nova at the Roman Forum (now St. Francis Romana). Here, too, there was a meeting between icons, also guarding this church a revered image of the Virgin. And it is perhaps this second icon that is a model for the depiction of the Virgin in the Trasteverino mosaic. Kitzinger's thesis is based, as well as on stylistic assonances between the mosaic decoration and the aforementioned icons (especially between the face of Christ of the mosaic and the lateran acheropita), on the fact that both central figures of the mosaic have in their hands cartouches with steps of the Song of Songs. It is documented that antiphone and sections from this Book of the Bible were sung (as is still the present today) during the procession of the Assumption. The first chapel in the left aisle is the Avila Chapel, with Baroque stucco by Antonio Gherardi (1680). Between the fourth and third chapels there is the tomb of Innocent II by the architect Virginio Vespignani who between 1866 and 1877 performed a stylistic restoration of the church. In the third chapel lunette, ceiling and altarpiece of Ferraù Fenzoni. Other works of art include the icon of Our Lady of Clemenza or Madonna Theotokos, a precious specimen dating back perhaps to the 6th century (but some historians assume the 8th), rigid frontality and the dazzling colors put in relation to the first layer of frescoes of the church of Santa Maria Antiqua. The Altemps chapel dates back to the late 16th century. The basilica houses the relics of St. Julius I and the salms of St. Callisto I and Innocent II.
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