The Churches of Rome

The locations of all places are shown on my Google-Earth Map

For a list of Rome's Churches see Wikipedia 

Churches near Santa Maria Maggiore

Google-Maps (enlarge the magnification, this map is in 3-D)

Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Piazza S.M. Maggiore, 5 blocks south of Termini Station, 430, mosaics 1295

The present building dates from the time of Pope Sixtus III (432 - 440) and contains mosaics from this period. The basilica's 16th-century coffered ceiling was a design by Giuliano da Sangallo. The apse mosaic: the Coronation of the Virgin, is from 1295, signed by the Franciscan friar, Jacopo Torriti. The Basilica also contains frescoes by Giovanni Baglione, in the Cappella Borghese.

Mary's Coronation in the apse

Mary's coronation, detail 1295

Christ in Majesty

Detail from the arabesques(!) in the apse (13th cent),

Santa Prassede
Glorious 9th cent mosaics, 2 blocks from S.M.Maggiore, 489, 820

The first definite mention of the church is in 489, but it may have been built in the time of Pope St Siricius (384-399).

A hidden gem just steps away from Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, Santa Prassede is a 9th-century basilica with glorious Byzantine mosaics filling the apse and a side chapel.

The current church dates from the early 9th century. Pope Paschal I (817-824) erected this basilica to replace the decaying 5th-century church and to house the neglected remains of saints that he had been removed from the abandoned catacombs. He also included a funerary chapel for his mother Theodora. The Basilica of Santa Prassede is an excellent example of the revival of early Christian art and architecture that characterized the Carolingian Renaissance

The apse mosaic, 9th cent

Interior of the Chapel of St. Zeno, covered in 9th-century mosaics commissioned by Pope Paschal I.

Holy Face in the Chapel of St. Zeno


Chiesa Santa Prudenziana
Supposedly one of the oldest churches in Rome, 4th cent
Via Urbana 160, 2 blocks northwest of S.M.Maggiore

The church of Santa Pudenziana is recognized as one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Rome. It was built over a 2nd century house (probably during the pontificate of the pontificate of Pius I (140–155) ) and re-uses part of a bath facility still visible in the structure of the apse. This church was the residence of the pope until, in 313, emperor Constantine offered them the Lateran Palace. In the 4th century, during the pontificate of Pope Siricius, the building was transformed into a three-naved church. In the acts of the synod of 499, the church bears the Titulus Pudentis, indicating that the administration of the sacraments was allowed.

According to Wikipedia: the remarkable mosaic in the apse dates from the end of the 4th century during the pontificate of Innocent I. It was restored in the 16th century. With the fearsome animals of the evangelists, it is iconographically among the most striking mosaics in Rome and probably from a later date (12th cent ?).

S.Maria Sopra Minerva
The only Gothic church in Rome, 1280-1370
Piazza della Minerva, close to the Pantheon

The only Gothic church in Rome, the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Basilica of St. Mary over Minerva) is so named because it was built directly on the foundations of a temple to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.
The basilica that stands today was begun in 1280. Architectural changes and redecorations in the 1500s and 1900s stripped it of some of its magnificence, but it still includes an awe-inspiring collection of medieval and Renaissance tombs.

The Nave

Ceiling over the quadrature

The present building owes its existence to the Dominican Friars, who received the property from Pope Alexander IV (1254-1261) and made the church and adjoining monastery their influential headquarters. The Dominican Order administers the area today.
The old Romanesque basilica was not splendid enough to serve as the chief Dominican church in Rome, so two Dominican monks, Sisto Fiorentino and Ristoro da Campi began the present structure in 1280. This pair of monastic architects had worked on the Gothic church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, which served as the model for this church in Rome.

It was in the Dominican monastery adjoining the church that the astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was tried by the Inquisition for teaching that the Earth revolved around the Sun. He was forced to recant and retire.

Ceiling of the Carafa Chaple

Filippino Lippi's fresco of the Assumption in the Carafa chapel was commissioned by the Spanish Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388-1468), (Dominican scholar and nephew of the Spanish inquisitor Tomás de T. - with a Jewish Conversa as mother!). The lower portion shows Torquemada being presented to the Virgin by Pope Paul IV Carafa, whose tomb is in the chapel. In another chapel you find the tomb of Fra Angelico, who died in the monastery.

San Vitale
Basilica, a veritable gallery of Baroque painting, 402,1475, and then in 1598, 1938 and 1960
197 Via Nazionale

This minor basilica was built in 400 and consecrated by Pope Innocent I in 401/402. San Vitale was restored several times, the most important being the rebuilding by Pope Sixtus IV before the Jubilee of 1475, and then in 1598, 1938 and 1960. - It appears like a veritable gallery of Baroque painting and sculpture - whether they are worth a visit needs to be established!

San Carlo alle Quattre Fontane
Francesco Borromini's Baroque masterpiece, 1634-1641
Via del Quirinale 23

Designed by the architect Francesco Borromini, it was his first independent commission, an iconic masterpiece of Baroque architecture, built as part of a complex of monastic buildings on the Quirinal Hill for the Spanish Discalced (de-shoed, I.e., barefoot) Trinitarians. He received the commission in 1634, under the patronage of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, whose palace was across the road.

Borromini effectively taught Bernini the fundaments of architecture. Bernini was a genius but originally a sculptor and Borromeo an unlucky ascetic who ended in suicide 1667. Both were favored by Cardinal Barbarini and became bitter enemies when Bernini's fame and commissions spread.

The church interior is both extraordinary and complex. The oval entablature to the dome has a 'crown' of foliage and frames a view of deep set interlocking coffering of octagons, crosses and hexagons which diminish in size the higher they rise. Light floods in from windows in the lower dome that are hidden by the oval opening and from windows in the side of the lantern.

Maria della Vittoria
Bernini's ultimate St. Teresa in Ecstasy, 1634-1641
Via del Quirinale 23

The church was begun in 1605 as a chapel dedicated to Saint Paul for the Discalced Carmelites. After the Catholic victory at the battle of White Mountain in 1620, which reversed the Reformation in Bohemia, the church was rededicated to the Virgin Mary. Turkish standards captured at the 1683 siege of Vienna hang in the church, as part of this theme of victory.

Bernini's Ecstasis of Santa Teresa in the Cornaro Chapel

The Baroque masterpiece of Bernini – is a marble sculpture(!) - in the Cornaro Chapel, to the left of the altar. It depicts a moment described by Saint Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, where she had the vivid vision of an angel piercing her with a golden shaft, causing her both immense joy and pain. The flowing robes and contorted posture abandon classical restraint and repose to depict a voluptuously passionate exstacy - de facto an orgasm...

Il Gesu
The church of the Jesuits, 1584
Piazza del Gesu, 1 block west of Piazza Venezia

This is "the first truly baroque façade", introducing the baroque style into architecture.

Although Michelangelo, at the request of the Spanish cardinal Bartolomeo de la Cueva, offered to design the church for free, the endeavor was funded by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, grandson of Pope Paul III, the pope who had authorized the founding of the Society of Jesus. Ultimately, the main architects involved in the construction were Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, architect of the Farnese family, and Giacomo della Porta. Consecrated 1584

The dark and dusty nave of Il Gesu

The Wies Church, Bavaria, Dominikus Zimmermann, 1745-54
Oh, I would give one of my beloved Bavarian village churches for all the Baroque of Rome!