All Roads Lead To Roma

Churches of Rome


Many of Rome's churches and basilicas have undergone major cleaning/renovation in preparation for the new millennium.  The Vatican is now sparkling white - in fact, some Romans feel it has been cleaned too well.

Many churches in Rome are quite dark inside, but some have coin-operated lighting for chapels, special paintings and statuary, so make sure you bring some change for those churches that have those features. Also, be aware that dress codes are vigorously enforced in all Roman churches; St. Peter's is especially strict.  No sleeveless blouses or sleeveless shirts (such as tanktops), or shorts.  Dresses should be at least to the knee; preferably below the knee.  Shoes must be worn also.  I always wear black tennis shoes (personal preference) and that seems to be okay.  I have seen people wearing tee-shirts (shoulders covered) and jeans, which is okay.

Appropriate Dress is a MUST!  If you are out sightseeing in shorts, miniskirts, tanktops, sleeveless blouses, etc., and wish to enter a church, you must be dressed appropriately (check my Dress - Etiquette section of the General Information page).  People who monitor visitors in churches have the right to refuse entrance if in their opinion the visitor is dressed inappropriate to enter.  One way to get around this is to carry long pants and a shirt/blouse with sleeves in a bag or backpack so that when you wish to enter a church, you can slip these garments on over your inappropriate attire before you enter.  Strict dress codes are especially adhered to at St. Peter's, so I wouldn't even try to enter wearing short skirts, shorts, or sleeveless tops.  You will be refused entrance.

A lot of churches and basilicas have books available about the history of that particular building.  If you have the extra money, I highly recommend purchasing those that you are interested in.  I could kick myself for not doing so at the time and have to do it the next time I visit.  Postcards, however few, are also often available of the interior of the churches, but be prepared to pay quite a bit for them.

There are hundreds of churches in Rome (in all of Rome, over 900), most all of them containing at least one or two things worth seeing.  But, one cannot see all the churches or you wouldn't have time for anything else.  I have listed some of the more notable churches of Rome below and what I think is worth seeing in each and have highlighted those that I believe are a 'must see' with a red dot.  For quite a larger listing of the churches of Rome, both in Old Rome and all of Rome, all denominations, please refer to the Church List at the bottom of this page.  I have broken Rome up into sections and what churches are in each section.  This makes it easier to plan your day of touring.  Have fun!

Pictures.  I have collected a vast amount of pictures of the different churches in Old Rome.  If you are interested in a photo of any particular church that you can't seem to find, let me know and if I have one, I will be glad to email it to you.  Some churches do not like for you to take flash pictures; others are so dark or the ceiling is so high that unless you have a very expensive professional camera, your picture will not come out.  However, most churches have postcards available at souvenir stalls or offices inside the church for purchase.  The larger churches and basilicas, and more popular and important churches also have gift/souvenir shops as well.

Praecordia. You will note in a lot of the apses of the churches, there are what is called praecordia (which translates to 'part of the heart') in which parts of different pontiffs' hearts are actually entombed behind the wall where the heart-shaped icons in frames are hung.  Pope Sixtus V started this tradition in the late 1500s and it wasn't until the early 1900s that it was stopped by Pope Pius X.  Some religious stores sell praecordias and some churches will allow them to be hung near religious statues or paintings in niches in memory of a loved one (for a steep fee, of course).  The only place I have ever found that sells praecordias is a rather large religious souvenir shop across from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore on a street that border the side of the Basilica.  It is called Casa del Rosario and it is located at via Esquilino, 33-34.  They have wonderful religious souvenirs and gift items as well as praecordia, which run about 34 euro each.

Relics.  The mentioning of 'relics' being located at a certain place is often times misunderstood.  A lot of people think that this means all of whatever is mentioned, be it relics of saints or of clothing or objects of a religious nature, are located in the place that it is mentioned.  This is not the case.  'Relics' used in its modern sense, are of some object, notably part of the body or clothes or object, remaining as a memorial of a departed saint or an object pertaining to Jesus.  It does not mean the entire body or object is located in this certain place.  A good case in point is that in a lot of guidebooks/resource books, it says, that "relics of the remains of the skulls of Sts. Peter and Paul are kept in a silver urn under the High Altar at San Giovanni in Laterano.  This means that a sliver of the bone matter or tissue from these saints are located here, but it does not mean this is where they are buried.  In this case, St. Peter is buried in the Tomb of St. Peter underneath the Basilica of St. Peter.  The Tomb of St. Paul is located under the High Altar of San Paolo fuori le Mura (St. Paul Outside the Walls) in Rome.  Also, while the 'relics' of St. James may be located in San Giovanni in Laterano, the Tomb of James the Lesser (one of the Apostles) is located under the High Altar at ss. Apostoli (Church of the Holy Apostles) near Piazza Venezia in Rome.  The Vatican has a Relics Library that contains the remains of all the saints.  Slivers of bone are often collected from the remains and distributed to various religious sites throughout the world.

The same holds true for 'relics' of objects.  Case in point, slivers of the True Cross.  A small portion of the True Cross may be located in many different places, i.e., in the Sanctuary of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, under the cross atop the obelisk in St. Peter's Square, behind the pilaster of St. Helena in the Basilica of St. Peter.  It doesn't mean the entire True Cross is located there.

Vatican Sector

For information on the Basilica of St. Peter and other sites inside Vatican City, please see my Vatican and Environs page.

Santo Spirito in Sassia, Borgo Santo Spirito 4. Open 7a-1230p and 4-8p daily, tel. 687.93.10.  (Holy Spirit of the Saxon Quarter)

Santa Maria in Traspontina, via della Conciliazione 14, tel., 630a-noon and 4-730p daily.  (St. Mary's Across the Bridge) Piazza Navona Area

Sant'Agnese in Agone, Piazza Navona, tel. 679.44.35, 5a-630p Mon-Sat; 10a-1p Sundays and public holidays.  (Church of St. Agnes in Agony)

Santa Maria dell'Anima, via della Pace 20, tel. 683.37.29, 730a-7p Mon-Sat, except July-Aug., 1p-3p; 8a-1p and 3p-7p Sunday.  (St. Mary of the Soul) Santa Maria della Pace, Vicolo del Arco della Pace 5, tel. 686.11.56 (St. Mary of Peace). San Luigi dei Francesi, Via Santa Giovanna d'Arco, tel. 688.27.1, Fri.-Wed. 7:30am-12:30pm and 3:30-7 pm.  Thursday, it is only open from 7:30am-12:30pm. (Church of St. Louis of the French). Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, Corso del Rinascimento. The only church with a twisted spiral spire. For mass, 10a-noon Sunday. Closed July-Aug.  (St. Ivo by the Sapienza; Sapienza means "the Knowledge" and the Sapienza was the first university founded in Rome.) Sant'Andrea della Valle, Piazza Sant'Andrea della Valle, tel. 686.13.39, 730a-noon, 430p-730p daily. (Church of St. Andrew of the Valley) Chiesa Nuova (New Church), Piazza della Chiesa Nuova, tel. 687 52 89, 8a-noon and 430p-7p daily. Sant'Agostino, Piazza di Sant'Agostino, Tel. 06/68801962, Mon.-Sat. 7:45 am-noon and 4-7:30 pm., Sun. 4 pm-6 pm. (Church of St. Augustine) San Salvatore in Lauro, Piazza San Salvatore in Lauro 15. Tel. 687 51 87. 830a-noon (except Thursday) and 430p-7p daily.  (San Salvatore of the Laurel) Sant'Apollinare, Piazza Sant'Apollinare 49. Tel. 68 30 80 37. 730a-noon and 4-730p daily. Piazza Della Rotonda Area

Sant'Ignazio di Loyola, Piazza di Sant'Ignazio, Tel. 679 44 06. 7:30a-1230p and 4p-715p daily.  (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Pantheon (Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres), Piazza della Rotonda, Tel.  Hours:  Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (July and August until 6 p.m.); Sat., Sun., and public holidays 9 a.m.-1 p.m.  Closed August 15 and December 25.  Free admission.
The first Pantheon was constructed by Marcus Agrippa between 27-25 B.C.  Between 118-125 A.D., Emperor Hadrian built a new Pantheon and, in 609, it was consecrated as the Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres under Pope Boniface IV.  This is truly a majestic building and one of the only ancient structures left in Rome that is still intact and in use today.  The only light that enters the circular building is through a hole in the center of the coffered dome called the "oculus".  It is the same as in Nero's "Golden House".  The building was constructed from a new material of the time called concrete, which was born after the great fire of Rome in 64 and new fireproofing codes had been enacted.  The beautiful marble inlaid floor (which is of the original Roman design) is sloped slightly so that rainwater would be able to drain from inside the building.  In 735, Pope Gregory III had the roof done in lead and, in 663, Emporer Constans II removed the gilded tiles from the roof.  To support the heavy dome, the walls are 19 feet thick.  The Rotonda's height and width are the same - 140 feet.  The original portico built by M. Agrippa remain and is built on the foundation of the original temple.  There were twin bell towers added on each side of the portico, but due to ridicule they were removed in 1883 leaving the original structure.  The interior walls are lined with tombs, including that of painter Raphael and King Vittorio Emanuele II.  It is interesting to note that when the papal seat was located in Avignon between 1305-1377, the Pantheon was used as a poultry market and fortress.  In 1632, Urban VIII had the bronze from the portico/dome melted down to provide Bernini the bronze with which to build the baldacchino in St. Peter's Basilica.  Concerts are also held here from time to time.  A MUST-SEE!
Gesu, Piazza del Gesu, 7am-noon and 4pm-7:00pm (Oct.-Mar. 4-715p) daily.  Tel. 06/697.001. (Church of Jesus) Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Piazza della Minerva 42. Tel. 679 39 26. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily. (St. Mary above Minerva) Sant'Eustachio, Piazza Sant'Eustachio, Tel. 686 53 34. 4p-7p daily.  (Church of St. Eustachio) La Maddalena, Piazza della Maddalena.  Tel. 679 77 96. 730a-noon, 5p-745p daily. (Church of St. Mary Magdalen) Santa Maria in Campo Marzio, Piazza in Campo Marzio 45. Tel. 678 70 21. 530p-630p daily, closed the month of August. San Lorenzo in Lucina, via in Lucina 16A. Tel. 687 14 94. 8a-noon and 5p-8p daily. Piazza di Spagna Area

Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, via Sant'Andrea delle Fratte 1. Tel. 679 31 91. 630a-1245p and 4p-9p daily. (St. Andrew of the Thickets)

Trinita dei Monti, Piazza della Trinita dei Monti, tel. 679 41 79, 830a-noon and 4p-6p daily.  (Trinity of the Mountains) All Saints, Via del Babuino, 153B. Tel. 699 41 430. Open mornings only; closed Tuesdays. Santa Maria dei Miracoli (St. Mary of Miracles) and Santa Maria in Montesanto (Saint Mary of the Holy Hill), Piazza del Popolo. The twin churches. S. Maria dei Miracoli (tel. 361 02 50) open 6a-1p and 5p-7p Mon.-Sat., 8a-1p and 5p-7p Sun. and public holidays. S. Maria in Montesanto (tel. 361 05 94) open 5p-8p (Nov.-Mar. 4p-7p) Mon., Wed., and Fri. Santa Maria del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo 12. Tel. 361 08 36. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily. (St. Mary of the People). Santi Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso, Via del Corso 437. Tel. 687 83 32. 730a-1230p and 5p-7p (Oct.-Mar. 730p) daily. Campo de'Fiori Area

Santa Maria dell'Orazione e Morte, via Giulia. Open for Mass 6p Sunday and public holidays.  (St. Mary of Prayer and Death)

Sant'Eligio degli Orefici, Via di Sant'Eligio 8A. 1030a-1230p Mon-Sat. When closed, inquire at No. 9 Via de Sant'Eligio.  Closed August and September. (St. Eligio of the Goldsmiths) Santa Maria di Monserrato, Via di Monserrato. Not open to the public except by special permission. Apply to the rector at the address above. (St. Mary of Monserrat [Catalonia], a title given by the founders of the original church in the 14th century who came from Barcelona.) San Carlo ai Catinari, Piazza B. Cairoli. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily. (St. Charles of the Bowl-makers) Santa Maria in Campitelli, Piazza di Campitelli. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily.  (Also known as Santa Maria in Portico) San Nicola in Carcere, Via del Teatro di Marcello. 730a-noon and 4p-7p Mon-Sat, 10a-7p Sun.  Closed August through mid-September.  (St. Nicholas in Prison) Ghetto and Synagogue, Synagogue, Lungotevere dei Cenci 15, Mon.-Thurs. 9am-5pm, Fri. 9am-2pm, Sun. 9am-12:30pm. Closed Saturday, no cameras. Ghetto, main street is Via Del Portico d'Ottavia.  Admission charge to Museo Ebraico (Museum of the Jewish Community). San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Via Acciaioli 2. 7a-11a and 5p-730p (Oct.-Mar 430p-7p) daily. (St. John of the Florentines) Capitol Area

Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Piazza d'Aracoeli (entrances via Aracoeli Staircase and door behind Palazzo Nuovo). Tel. 679 81 55. Open 7a-noon, 4p-6p (June-Sept 630p) daily. (St. Mary of the Altar in the Sky)

San Marco, Piazza San Marco, 48. Tel. 679 52 05. April-Sept. 7a-1230p and 5p-730p. Oct-Mar 8a-1p and 4p-7p daily. No cameras allowed.  (Church of St. Mark) The Forum

Admission charge is for entry to the Roman Forum.  Apr-Sep. 9a-7p Mon.-Sat. and 9a-2p on Sun.  Oct.-Mar. 9a-3p Mon.-Sat. and 9a-2p on Sun.  Closed public holidays.

Santa Francesca Romana, Piazza di Santa Francesca Romana, 9:30a-1p, and 4p-7p daily. (St. Francis of Rome)

Originally called Santa Maria Nova, it is inside the Roman Forum.  Every March 9, motorists park as close as they can to this church so their cars can be blessed by Santa Francesca Romana, who is the patron saint of motorists.  This is quite a sight to see if you are in Rome during this time of year.  Of note is a flagstone that show the imprints of the knees of St. Peter and St. Paul.
San Giuseppe dei Falegnami.  Apr-Sep. 9a-noon, 2:30p-6p and Oct-Mar. 9a-noon and 2-5p.  Donation is expected.
This is the 16th-century Church of St. Joseph of the Carpenters.  Beneath it is the famed Mamertine Prison where St. Peter was imprisoned and also has an altar with a cross presented upside down, the way St. Peter was crucified.  The prison was an old cistern with access to the city's main sewer at the time of Imperial Rome.  The lower cell was used for executions and the bodies were then thrown into the sewer.  The entire complex is also known as San Pietro in Carcere (St. Peter in Prison).
Santi Luca e Martina (Church of Sts. Luke and Martin)
This medieval church was rebuilt in 1640 by Pietro da Cortona and is at the base of the steps leading to the Campidoglio.  NOTE:  I have never found this church open whenever I have visited the Foro Romano.
Santi Cosma e Damiano, 7a-1pm, 3p-7p only.  There is an admission charge for the creche.
This church is on the site of the Temple of Romulus.  The domed building is part of the present church.  Of special interest is viewing the creche.
San Lorenzo in Miranda, Roman Forum.  Closed to the public.
One of the strangest and most preserved sight in the Roman Forum is the Baroque facade of this church, which incorporates the ancient Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.  It was first dedicated in 141 A.D. (portico still completely intact) as a temple and became in church in the 11th century after St. Lawrence was condemned to death there.
Janiculum Area

Sant'Onofrio, Piazza di Sant'Onofrio, 2. 10a-noon Sunday for Mass; otherwise, admission by appointment only. Tel. 686 44 98. Closed August except for Saint's Feast Day on August 12.  Museum is open by appointment only, but well worth seeing.

San Pietro in Montorio, Piazza San Pietro in Montorio, 2. 9a-noon and 4p-630p daily.  If closed, ring bell at door to the right of the church. (St. Peter's on the Gold Mountain)

Trastevere Area

Santa Maria della Scala, Via della Scala. 630a-noon and 4p-7p (Oct-Mar 615p) Mon-Sat; 645a-1215p Sun. and public holidays. (St. Mary of the Holy Stairs)

Santa Maria dei Sette Dolori, Via Garibaldi, 27.  Closed to the public. Sant'Egidio and Museo del Folklore, Piazza Sant'Egidio, 1.  Museo del Folklore 9a-130p Tu-Sat, 9a-1p Sun, 5p-730p Tu and Thurs (last admission 30 minutes before closing). Admission charge. Church is open for services only 830pm daily. Santa Maria in Trastevere, Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. 730a-1p, 4p-7p daily.  Church 6p daily. San Crisogono, Piazza Sonnino, 44. 7a-1130a and 4p-7p Mon-Sat, 8a-1p Sun.  Admission charge for excavations. Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Piazza di Santa Cecilia. 10a-noon and 4p-6p daily.  Admission charge for excavations.  Cavallini fresco can be seen 10a-1130a Tu and Thurs (donation expected). San Francesco a Ripa, Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi, 88. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily. Aventine Area

Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Piazza della Bocca della Verita, 18. 9a-1p and 3p-6p daily (Oct-Mar 5p). Phone first at 678 14 19.

San Giorgio in Velabro, Via del Velabro, 19.  Tel. 06/ (St. George by the Velabrum) San Teodoro, Via di San Teodoro. 1030a-noon Sunday only. Santa Maria della Consolazione, Piazza della Consolazione, 84. 8a-noon daily (afternoons on request).  Closed month of August. Tel. 678 46 54.  (St. Mary of Consolation) San Giovanni Decollato, Via di San Giovanni Decollato, 22. (St. John Beheaded) Santa Sabina, Piazza Pietro d'Illiria, 1. 9a-1p and 330p-6p daily. Santi Bonifacio e Alessio, Piazza di Sant'Alessio, 23. 830a-noon and 330p-630p (Oct-Mar 6p) daily. San Saba, Via di San Saba. 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily. Celian Hill Area

Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Piazza Santi Giovanni e Paolo, 13. 9a-11a and 4p-530p daily.  (Church of Sts. John and Paul)

San Gregorio Magno, Piazza di San Gregorio. 9a-1230p and 330p-630p daily.  (Church of St. Gregory the Great) Santa Maria in Domnica, Piazza della Navicella, 12. 9a-noon and 330p-7p (Oct-Mar 6p) daily. (St. Mary by the Domnica - corruption of Dominicum, an archaic Latin word for church, "House of the Lord", in use around the 3rd century A.D.) Caracalla Area

San Sisto Vecchio, Piazzale Numa Pompilio, 8. 9a-11a daily.  Closed month of August. No cameras allowed.

Santi Nereo e Achilleo, Via di Porta San Sebastiano, 4. 10a-noon and 4p-6p Sat-Thurs. San Cesareo, Via di Porta San Sebastiano.  Closed to the public. San Giovanni a Porta Latina, Via di San Giovanni a Porta Latina. 8a-1230p and 330p-630p daily. Donation is expected. (The Church of St. John at the Latin Gate) San Giovanni in Oleo, Via di Porta Latina.  (St. John in Oil) Lateran Area

San Giovanni in Laterano, Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, 4. One of the four major churches in Rome. Church and cloister open 7a-7p (Oct-Mar 6p Mon-Fri) daily.  Museum open 9a-1p and 3p-5p Mon-Fri. Admission for cloister and museum. (St. John of the Lateran)

Scala Sancta and Sancta Sanctorum (Sacred Steps), Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, 14. 630a-1150a, 330p-645p (Oct-Mar 3p-645p) daily.  THIS IS A MUST SEE! Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Piazza di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. 6a-1230p and 330p-730p (Oct-June 630p) daily.  THIS IS A MUST SEE!  (Holy Cross in Jerusalem) Santi Quattro Coronati (Four Crowned Saints), Via dei Santi Quattro Coronati, 20. 930a-noon and 330p-6p (Oct-Mar 930a-noon) Mon-Sat. San Clemente, Via di San Giovanni in Laterano. 9a-1230p and 330p-630p (Oct-Mar 6p) daily.  Admission charge to excavations.  (Church of St. Clement) Santo Stefano Rotondo, Via di Santo Stefano, 7. 9a-noon Mon-Fri. No cameras allowed.  (Church of St. Stephen in the Round) Esquiline Area

San Martino ai Monti, Viale del Monte Oppio, 28. 7a-noon and 430p-7p (Oct-Mar 430p-630p) daily. (St. Martin in Monti - Rome's first district)

San Pietro in Vincoli, (St. Peter in Chains), Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli, 4A. 7a-1230p and 330p-7p (Oct-Mar 6p) Mon-Sat, 845a-1145a Sun. Santa Pudenziana, Via Urbana, 160. 8a-noon and 4p-7p (Oct-Mar 3p-6p) daily. Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the four major churches in Rome, Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore. 7a-8p daily; Oct-Mar 7a-7p (last admission 15 minutes before closing). (St. Mary Major) Santa Prassede, Via Santa Prassede, 9A. 730a-noon and 4p-630p daily. Santa Bibiana, Via Giovanni Giolitti, 154. 7a-10a and 5p-6p daily.  Call first: 446 10 21. Quirinal Area

Santi Apostoli, Piazza dei Santi Apostoli. 630a-noon and 4p-715p daily.  (Church of the Holy Apostles)

A 15th century church was built over the original 6th century one.  One of the most interesting features inside this church is Canova's massive Tomb of Pope Clement XIV with the Figures Humility and Modesty of (1789).  Also inside is Canova's memorial to engraver Giovanni Volpato of 1807.  The Tombs of Apostles James and Philip are in the crypt under the massive altarpiece by Domenico Muratori.  Also of special interest is the painting Rebel Angels by Giovanni Odazzi which give the 3D effect of actually falling from the sky.
San Marcello al Corso, Piazza San Marcello, 5 (on Via del Corso). 7a-noon and 4p-7p daily.
This was one of the first churches in Rome to hold Christian services.  The building was rebuilt by Jacopo Sansovino after it burned down in 1519 and he added a single nave with many private chapels adorning the sides.  The nave holds the Tomb of Cardinal Giovanni Michiel and his nephew, Bishop Antonio Orso, also by Sansovino.
Santa Maria in Trivio, Piazza dei Crociferi, 49. 810a-noon and 4p-730p daily.  (St. Mary of the Three Crossroads)
It is said that the translation of the name of this church is St. Mary's At the Meeting of Three Roads.  It boasts a fine example of 16th century Italian facade work.  Note that all the windows are false.  The ceiling frescoes inside the church are by Antonio Gherardi (1644-1702).  Over the years, the word Trivio has been amended to Trevi.  This is where the famed Trevi Fountain gets its name.  This very small church sits behind the famed Trevi Fountain on the left as you face the fountain.
Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio, Vicolo dei Modelli, 73. 630a-noon, 330p-730p daily.
The facade of this church is by M. Longhi and boasts six Roman columns, three on each side of the door and three overhead.  This church faces the famed Trevi Fountain.  The church was built in 1650.  It was commissioned by Cardinal Raimondo Mazzarino, whose coast of arms are in between the two sets of columns above the doorway.
San Bernardo alle Terme, Via Torino, 94. 6a-630p daily.  (St. Bernard by the Baths)
This church was once one of the four towers that was part of the corner of the gigantic Baths of Diocletian and is round.  Contessa Caterina Nobili Sforza is entombed under the 18th century marble altar.  She is responsible for turning the tower into a church.  You will also note that the dome resembles the Pantheon in that the very top is open to permit light to enter the structure.  There are also statues of saints by Camillo Mariani (1567-1611) inside.  It is directly across the street from Santa Suzanna and around the corner from Santa Maria della Vittoria and the Moses Fountain.
Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, Via del Quirinale, 29. 10a-noon and 4p-7p Wed-Mon. Closed Tuesday and month of August. Tip expected by Sacristan for showing St. Stanislas's rooms. (St. Andrew of the Quirinale)
This small church has the most exquisite interior made of roseate marble.  It is oval in design by Bernini and was built between 1658 and 1670 for the Jesuits.  There is a marble St. Stanislas Kostka by Pierre Legros (1666-1719) well worth seeing as well as the richly decorated dome.  It is alongside the Presidential Palace next to the Quirinale Gardens.
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (St. Charles at the Four Fountains), Via del Quirinale, 23. 9a-noon Mon-Sat and 4p-6p Mon-Fri.  Built by Borromini.
What is unique about this church is the dome is lit only by concealed windows.  It was designed by Borromini in 1634 (one of his very last works) and commissioned by the Spanish Trinitarians and completed in 1667.  The church is also known as San Carlino (dedicated to Cardinal Carlo Borromeo) and is so small it can fit into one of the piers of St. Peter's.  Borromini commited suicide in 1667 and in the crypt is reserved a chapel for him, but still remains empty.  Off the sacristy is a painting of Borromini wearing the Spanish Trinitarian cross as well.
Santa Maria dei Monti, Via Madonna dei Monti, 41. 7a-noon and 5p-730p Mon-Sat, 10a-11a Sun. and public holidays. (St. Mary on the Mountain)
This church was designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1580.  The dome is of particular importance.  Also contains the Tomb of St. Benoit-Joseph Labre, who died here in 1783 (left transept altar).  The clothes (actually tattered rags) he wore are well-preserved as relics.
Santa Maria degli Angeli, Via Cernaia, 9. 8a-1230p, 4p-630p.  (St. Mary of the Holy Angels)
Built in 1566 by Michelangelo who adapted the ancient Tepidarium of the Baths of Diocletian. The Central Nave is enormous - 290 feet long, 89 feet wide, and 92 feet high - with huge pillars.  The eight monolith red granite pillars are ancient. The Tomb of Marshal A. Diaz (1928) is also here.  Once inside, the interior is massive and quite beautiful.
Santi Domenico e Sisto, Largo Angelicum, 1. Open by appointment only.  Closed July through September.
This church is unique in that it has twin staircases leading to the entrance.  One of the chapels inside was done by Bernini (first chapel on the right) with a magnificent sculpture group of Mary Magdalene and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.  There is a gigantic fresco by Domenico Canuti (1620-84) that fills the ceiling called Apotheosis of St. Dominic.
Sant'Agata dei Goti, Via Mazzarino 16 and Via Panisperna. 7a-9p and 530p-7p Mon-Sat, 7a-noon on Sunday.  (St. Agatha of the Goths)
Goti means Goths, who occupied Rome in the 6th century A.D. and the church was founded shortly after 470 A.D.  You will find the exquisite columns made of granite, which date from this time.  There is a 12th century tabernacle and a courtyard that was built around a well, now covered in ivy.  Quite striking.
Via Veneto Area

Santa Maria della Vittoria, Via XX Settembre, 17. 630a-noon and 430p-630p daily. No cameras. (St. Mary of Victory)

By C. Maderno in 1620. If you are a Bernini follower, the fourth chapel contains the famous marble group, The Ecstasy of St. Teresa, (1646) and is a must-see.  Note the marble sculptures of patrons in box seats as though viewing a theatrical performance to the side of this masterpiece.
Santa Maria della Concezione (St. Mary of the Conception), Via Veneto, 27 at Piazza Barberini. 7a-noon and 345p-730p. Crypt open 9a-noon and 3p-6p. Donation expected.
Built by Cardinal Antonio Barberini, who was Urban VIII's brother, in 1626.  Cardinal Barberini was a Capuchin friar.  He is buried is a simple grave under the altar where there is a tombstone with the inscription in Latin, "Here lies dust, ashes, nothing."  As churches go, this is a very plain one, unlike most of the churches in Rome which are very ornate.  Of special interest is is the macabre Capuchin crypts beneath the church (see below) which are incredible.
Capuchin Crypts.  Built in 1616. Five underground chapels with a macabre furnishing of the skeletons and bones of about 4,000 Capuchin friars in intricate ornate ceiling and wall Baroque patterns. An incredible sight.   Pictures can be found of these chapels on my Photo Gallery page.  Open summers 9a-noon and 3p-6p, winter 930a-noon and 3p-6p).  There are no cameras allowed and a 'small donation' is expected.  Postcards have been available for purchase.

Santa Suzanna, Piazza San Bernardo. 9a-noon, 4p-7p Mon-Sat, 10a-noon Sun.

The facade of this church was finished in 1603 by Carlo Maderno.  The church is built on the site that has been the spot where Christians have worshiped ever since the 4th century.  One of the most interesting things aby Santa Suzanna are the four frescoes that have been painted to resemble tapestries.  These were done by Baldassarre Croce (1558-1623).  This is also the Catholic church for Americans in Rome.
Churches Outside the Ancient Walls

Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura (St. Agnes Outside the Wall), via Nomentana 349, Mon.-Sat. 9am-noon and 4-6pm Tues. and Sat., 4-6pm public holidays and Sundays.  Admission charge.

Built in the 4th century as a small sanctuary on catacombs where lay the remains of the saintly martyr.  Inside, impressive ruins, vast basilica, built by Constantia, daughter of Constantine.  Constantia had leprosy and it is rumored that she often prayed at the Tomb of St. Agnes here for healing from the disease.  Descend to the catacombs of St. Agnes (admission 9a-noon and 4p-6p). The catacombs are among the best preserved.  She was buried here in 304 A.D.  This group of buildings also include a covered cemetery.  In the apse is a gold mosaic of St. Agnes with a pope on each side.
Santa Costanza, via Nomentana 349, located at Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, same hours as Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, admission charge.
This is a 4th century church with a breathtaking circular interior.  It was built as a mausoleum for Constantia and Helena, Constantine's daughters.  You will find the original porphyry sarcophagus of Constantia in the Vatican Museums (moved there in 1790) but a replica is in one of the niches.
San Paolo fuori le Mura (St. Paul's Outside the Wall), Via Ostiense 186.  7:30a-6:40p daily.  The last admission is 15 minutes before closing time, so don't wait until the last minute.
This church is one of the four patriarchal churches of Rome (the other three are St. Peter's, San Giovanni in Laterano, and Santa Maria Maggiore).  It is pretty far out so I recommend taking the Metro to San Paolo and it is across the street.  The original basilica (4th century) was destroyed by fire in 1823 and was rebuilt.  Only a few of the original fragments remain.  Of note is the marble canopy by Arnolfo di Cambio (1285) which is over the high altar  The confessio below the altar contains the Tomb of St. Paul.  Be sure to check out the spiral columns of the cloisters which were built by the Vassalletto family in 1214 and survived the fire.  Also the beautiful gold mosaics by Pietro Cavallini which were originally on the facade and were moved to the nave.

St. Paul's design is that of a five-aisled church, unlike most of Rome's basilicas, which were built having three aisles.  Separating the central nave from the four side aisles are 80 colossal granite columns.  Above these columns all the way around the interior of the Basilica are mosaic portraits of all the Popes, from the first to the present.  Only the current pope's portrait is illuminated.  Tradition tells that when this Basilica runs out of space for these portraits of the popes, the world will end.  There are only eight vacant circles left as of 2003.  If you know the story, this is quite an eerie feeling.

San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (St. Lorenzo Outside the Wall), Piazzale del Verano, 3.  Sat-Tues. and Thurs. 7a-noon and 3:30-6:30p.
This church is located outside the eastern wall near the Campo Verano cemetery.  St. Lorenzo was slowly burned to death in 258 A.D.  The first church was built over where he was buried and was rebuilt in 576.  Next to it is the Church of the Virgin Mary (5th century) and both of these churches have been integrated into a single structure.  This was accomplished between the 8th and 13th centuries.  Of note is the grand bell tower.  Allied bombers badly damaged this church during World War II, but it has been restored.  St. Lorenzo's remains are under the altar of the original 6th century church.
For a partial listing of churches in all of Rome (including those listed above), both Catholic and non-Catholic,click here.

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