Rome is a city of great beauty, great heritage, and a culture and history that is so rich.
As many people know, Rome is also the seat of the Catholic religion and as such, there are so many beautiful churches if you do get the chance to visit Rome.
Here are some of the most beautiful and historically significant churches in Rome that you certainly need to visit if you are ever in the area.
Famous Churches in Rome
1. St. Peter’s Basilica
This is one that we have all heard about in history class or in passing that should certainly be on your visit list if you get a chance.
The Basilica was started in 1506 and was officially completed in 1626. Though this might seem like a huge span of time, Cathedrals and churches were built mainly by hand during these times so it took much longer to perfect and complete these massive and often imposing structures.
The Basilica is located in Vatican City and is one of the most important cultural and historical landmarks in Rome. It is also the largest church in the world when measured by the interior. It has often been called the greatest of all churches in Christendom.
It is the final resting place of Saint Peter, one of Jesus’ chief apostles who would become the first Pope. Many people make pilgrimage to St. Peter’s every year and are simply in awe of the size, structure, and beauty of the Basilica.
2. Santa Maria Maggiore
This is another famous Basilica in the city. It is located in Rome and is recognized as one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome. It is also the largest Catholic church in Rome.
This particular Basilica is also often referred to as Our Lady of the Snows due to a story about a patrician named John and his wife how did not have heirs and wanted to know where they could donate their belongings upon death.
The story goes that snow fell on the hill where the basilica is currently built and they built the basilica in honor the Virgin Mary.
The current church is an absolutely breathtaking structure that is massive and imposing and features some stunning artwork, architecture, and beautiful statuary that is going to be certain to stun and amaze.
3. Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
This structure is also called the Archbasilica Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saint John Baptist and John the Evangelist in the Lateran.
This is the seat of the Pope in Rome. It is outside of the Vatican City. It is the oldest and highest in rank of all the four major papal basilicas and is also part of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome.
This church in particular has the unique title of an Archbasilica due to this distinction. It was first founded in the year 324 and is currently the oldest public church in the city and also holds the distinction of the oldest basilica in the western world.
This church also holds many papal tombs, it holds the remains of Alexander III, Pope Sergius IV, Pope Clement XII, Pope Martin V, Pope Innocent III, and Pope Leo XIII.
These are the only Popes that are not now housed in St. Peter’s Basilica, all Popes now are entombed there.
4. Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere
This site is also referred to Basilica of Our Lady in Travestere. This is referred to as a minor basilica and is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The first sanctuary was first constructed in 221.
There is an inscription in the church that states that it was the first Church dedicated to Mary, Mother of Jesus in the city of Rome. The church has undergone several restorations and was restored under Pope Innocent II.
The current church, as it sits, was restored by Pius IX. The Madonna della Clemenza is in the church and is also called the Virgin and Child and is a stunning panel that is thought to be of Byzantine origins.
The interior of the church is decorated with tons of fantastic and gorgeous paintings and mosaics that are dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
5. Basilica San Clemente
This is a minor basilica that is dedicated to Pope Clement I. This is a three-tiered structure that is absolutely stunning. It was built before 1100 and was built during the middle-ages.
The basilica did not start as such, it was originally the home of a Roman nobleman that was thought to be the site of Christian worship in secret before the Catholic church grew in power and influence.
The current church was built on the foundation of the home and the church is dedicated to Pope Clement I.
The church has artwork that depicts his life and the miracles that he performed during his lifetime. The basilica has been rebuilt several times and has even been expanded.
6. Pantheon Rome
The Pantheon is a former Roman temple that was built to honor all the gods. It was then transformed into a catholic church in the year 609 AD and was renamed the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs.
The Pantheon shows the typical Roman architecture on the exterior with columns and a portico. Currently, the Pantheon features the typical Roman architecture on the exterior with the interior dome being designed to honor the catholic religion.
Also Read: Famous Churches in Italy
This is a church that you must visit if you are interested in the Roman culture and the Roman history of Rome, not just the Catholic heritage of the city.
This church has stunning Roman architecture that will transport you back to Rome and will allow you to see what it might have looked like all those years ago upon its founding.
7. Santa Maria sopra Minerva
This church is one of the major churches for the Roman Catholic Order of Preachers, or the Dominicans.
The name of the church comes from the fact that it was built on top of the foundations of a temple that was dedicated to the Goddess Isis, at the time, it was thought that the temple was to the Goddess Minerva instead.
It is located close to the Pantheon, about a block away. It is the only example of Gothic architecture in the city of Rome as all other structures were given a makeover to hide the Gothic architecture.
The interior features sculpture by Michelangelo, paintings, mosaics and so many other stunning and truly breathtaking artwork.
It also houses the remains of Saint Catherine of Siena, except for her head which is held in Siena. This is a great site if you want to see what a shrine to a female saint looks like.
8. Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
This is one of the four major papal basilicas in Rome and is also one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome.
Though it is owned by the Vatican and the Holy See, it is located outside of the walls of Vatican City, hence the name. It was founded in 324 and has since been restored several times as well as expanded.
One of the most striking features of the Basilica is the cloister of the monastery that is absolutely stunning.
The story goes that the tomb of Saint Paul is located on the grounds and that is the main reason for the basilica being built outside of the walls of Vatican City.
9. Santa Maria in Aracoeli
This is also known as the Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven. It is located at the highest summit of the Campidoglio and is still recognized as the church of the city council of Rome.
The church also contains a shrine to Saint Helen, who was the mother of Emperor Constantine. This is an absolutely stunning church that has many relics and that does have a great history to learn about.
There are a number of historic pieces that decorate the interior of the church including the famous wooden statue of Santo Bambino of Aracoeli which was believed to have healing powers.
10. Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
This church is also known as the Basilica of the Hold Cross in Jerusalem. It is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome as well.
It was consecrated in 325 and houses relics of the passion of Jesus as well as the floor being covered with soil that was brought from Jerusalem.
Since the church was consecrated it was considered to be in Jerusalem, not just dedicated to the Holy Cross.
This is a very interesting church to visit if you are near and you have the time. It is flanked by twenty windows making the interior light and airy and helping to illuminate the stunning artwork that is housed there.
It is home to the Cappella delle Relique that claims to have part of the cross upon which Jesus was hung, as well as the index finger of St. John, pieces of the true cross, and more.