Rome’s Other Basilicas
Do you know Saint Peter’s is not the cathedral of Rome? Actually, the world’s supposedly largest church is located into a state independent of Italy, namely Vatican City, an enclave within the Italian Republic. Rome has its own cathedral at Saint John’s basilica, one worth visiting together with many other churches a little off the beaten path.
Indeed Saint John’s was the seat of the papacy until the popes were brought to Avignon in 1309. Originally founded in the 4th century, it still shows evidence of its millennia long history, including an exquisite cloister from the 13th century to the left of the front altar. It just takes a 15-minute walk from Via Gallia apartment in a residential area near the ancient city walls.
Within the same south quadrant, but much closer to the Colosseum and Casa Isabella, is Saint Clement, where layers of history are piled on top of each other. Visitors climb down to a 4th century church, the 2nd century remains of a pagan temple and, finally, an incredibly well preserved 1st century Roman street.
You can also appreciate the time switch from an early medieval to a baroque church at Saint Mary Major, less than 10 minutes on foot from Via dei Capocci apartment, equally close to Saint Praxedes, whose intimate scale and hushed air beckon you a few steps from the Major’s facade. By the way, both basilicas are also very close to Elizabeth House.
Among the many other churches dedicated to Jesus’ mother, one should not miss Saint Mary in Trastevere, to the other side of river Tiber, in the liveliest part of the district where Casa di Fenizio apartment and Wanderlust House are located. The interior of the basilica is as dazzling as its mosaic facade.
So, why should you be lining up outside Saint Peter’s when you can go easily find beauty and spirituality in the above mentioned churches? Also, there are so many more that can’t be comprehended in here, just remember you’re visiting the city with the largest number of churches (and not all of them are Roman Catholic, do you know?)