This marvellous Walking Tour of Rome will start with the visit of the beautiful Basilica of St. John in the Lateran
, the cathedral of Rome, which was founded by Constantine as the Basilica of the Savior, during the papacy of St. Sylvester (314-335). It was destroyed and rebuilt several times; the current basilica dates to the 17th century. The imposing façade in travertine was built in 1735 by the architect Alessandro Galilei. The balustrade above the attic holds 15 statues which represent Christ, St. John the Baptist and the Doctors of the Church. In the left side of the portico is a statue of Constantine brought from the Imperial Baths at the Quirinal; the bronze doors were taken from the Curia in the Roman Forum by Pope Alexander VII (1655-1667). The last door on the right is the Holy Door
, opened only during holy years.
Next stop on our tour of Christian Rome is the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
. It is the fourth largest church in Rome and the largest dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and apart from some decorations, it is the only basilica to which still preserves its original shape and character. The beautiful façade, by Fuga, features a portico with five openings divided by pilasters decorated with columns, and a loggia with three great arches. The Romanesque campanile (Bell Tower) is the tallest in Rome. The interior, with three naves, is a magnificent sight. At the end of a double row of columns, under the triumphal arch, is the great baldacchino
(also by Fuga), supported by four splendid porphyry columns. The ceiling, by Giuliano Sangallo, was gilded with the first gold brought from America. Along the walls of the architrave, a series of thirty-six mosaics represent scenes from the Old Testament, which join the great mosaic of the triumphal arch, which scenes from the New Testament. All these mosaics, which date to the 5th century, are of particular importance and beauty. The pavement of the basilica is a fine Cosmatesque work of the 12th century. The sarcophagus in front of the high altar was decorated in 1874 by Vespignani, who used the rarest and most precious marble. Behind the metal grill are the celebrated relies of the Presepio (crib), consisting of five pieces of the manger in which Christ was put at birth, closed in a silver urn designed by Valadier. In front is the large kneeling statue of Pope Pius IX by Jacometti. On the high altar, under the great canopy, a sarcophagus contains the bones of St. Matthew the Evangelist. In the apse with the lancet window is a fine mosaic of the Triumph of Mary by Torriti.
By Metrorail we’ll reach our last destination, the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, built over the tomb of the “Apostle of the People”. It was the Emperor Costantine who first built a church over St. Paul’s tomb. A much larger basilica was built at the end of the 4th century; according to the mosaic inscription on the triumphal arch, it was begun by Theodosius, finished by Onorius, and restored and decorated by Placidias under Pope Leo I (440-461). This splendid basilica, one of the marvels of the world, was destroyed by fire in 1823. It was rebuilt by Pope Pius IX in 1854 on the same foundations according to the original design. The magnificent four-sided portico immediately suggests a typical Roman Basilica.
Each church will be visited for about 45 minutes.
Take water, camera & sun cream; wear comfortable shoes. In low season warmer clothing may be required!
THIS TOUR WILL OPERATE RAIN OR SHINE, SO BE PREPARED FOR ALL WEATHER CONDITIONS.