7. November 2018

Top 10 Rome Churches: Visit the 10 most beautiful churches in Rome

Which are the most beautiful churches in Rome? Walking through Rome you will pass many beautiful churches in Rome. Rome has more than 900 churches to offer – too many to visit them all. In this article you will find out which churches in Rome you should definitely not miss visiting.

Rome Churches: Tips and Information about the 10 most beautiful churches in Rome

Rome is known to be the center of the Roman-catholic church. Some of the most well-known churches in Rome are St. Peter’s Basilica and the Pantheon. But you can find small churches and chapels everywhere in Rome, sometimes hidden in small streets and alleys. In Rome, you can find Pope churches, Pilgrim churches, Jesuit churches and many more. Rome offers churches from different periods, all distinguished by their own unique architecture and history.

St. Peter's in Rome

Rome Churches: What is important when visiting the churches in Rome?

Churches in Rome are sacred places where people pray and celebrate masses, which is why a strict dress code applies to the churches in Rome. In general shoulders and knees must be covered. This does not only apply to women but also to men. This might be cause problems in summer, since Roman summers are usually very hot. Yet, if you disregard this rule you might be denied access to the churches in Rome. My advice: just have a large scarf or shawl with you to cover shoulders and knees. Hats and caps must also be removed when entering a church in Rome.

Admission to most churches in Rome is free, nevertheless the churches will be happy about a small donation. You can do this by lighting up a candle for which you will have to pay a small amount.

Rome Churches: 10 churches in Rome that you should visit

1. Rome Churches: St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome

St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is the largest church in the world and the center of Christianity. The tomb of Peter the Apostle is supposed to be in the necropolis underneath St. Peter’s Basilica. St Peter’s Basilica and St Peter’s Square are a piece of art for which you should spare some time. The dome is very impressive and you can enjoy a great panoramic view over Vatican City and Rome from the top. You should plan about one hour for the visit to St. Peter’s and another hour for the visit to the dome.

St Peter's basilica in the morning

Since there are always log waiting lines in front of the security check to St Peter’s Basilica, I advise you to buy the combined ticket for St Peter’s and the dome including an audioguide, which might save you up to one hour waiting.

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

To get to St. Peter’s Basilica you can take the metro A to the station Ottaviano. The tram 19 stops at Piazza del Risorgimento and the buses 40 and 64 from Termini station, bus 23 with the Transpontina / Conciliazione stop and buses 34, 46, 98, 190F, 881, 916, 982, N5, N15, N20 with the stop Cavalleggeri / San Pietro are also not far away.

Admission to St Peter’s Basilica is free. You will need preordered tickets for Papal masses and general audiences. I recommend the fast track tickets to skip the lines at the security check points at the entrance to St Peter’s. Admission to the grottos is free as well. To visit the dome the entry fee is 10 euros to use the elevator and 8 euros if you climb up the stairs (5 euros for school classes). Entry to the treasure chamber is 6 euros and 4 euros for the reduced ticket.

During Papal masses and general audiences St. Peter’s, the grottos and the dome are closed.

The basilica is open from the 1st of April to the 30th of September from 7 am to 7 pm and from the 1st of October to the 30th of March until 6:30 pm. The dome is accessible from 8 am to 5 pm in the low season and from 8 am to 6 pm in the high season; the treasury is open from 8 am to 7 pm in summer and from 8 am to 6:15 pm in winter.


2. Rome Churches: Santa Maria dell’Anima in Rome

Santa Maria dell’Anima in Rome is a German parish church. It is a meeting place and papal institute. It is usually led by an Austrian rector.

The church is located behind Piazza Navona in Via Santa Maria dell’Anima. It dates back to the 16th century and is decorated in central European style. The nave and the two aisles are the same hight. The large pillars and the eight lateral chapels were erected in gothic style. The impressive facade was created in the Italian Renaissance architecture.

Santa Maria dell Anima Rome

Worth visiting is the church Santa Maria della Pace, just behind the Santa Maria dell’Anime, where you can marvel at a painting by Raphael, the Sibyls. The church is mostly closed, but next to the church is the cloister of the Bramante, which in the 15th century was a famous painter and master builder of the Italian Renaissance. On the first floor is a cafeteria, from where you can see the painting of Raphael very well.

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

The bus stop Zanardelli which is served by the lines 70, 81, 87, 492, 628, C3, N6, N7 and N25 is very close to the church of Santa Maria dell’Anime in Rome.

Admission to the church is free.

The opening hours of the church change slightly throughout the year but between 9 am and 12.45 pm and the again between 3 pm and 7 pm you will find it most likely open. The church is closed on Wednesday mornings.


3. Rome Churches: The Pantheon in Rome

The Pantheon in Rome is dedicated to the Roman Gods. It is particularly impressive because of its large dome, which has a larger diameter at the base than the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. The dome is open in the center. Seeing the sky through the dome opening is very impressive. What a building! When it rains, the water can exit through drains in the floor inside the pantheon.

Pantheon-in-Rome

As many other traditions, holidays and monuments the Pantheon as well was assimilated by the Catholic Church and turned into a Catholic Church rather than a Roman temple. Its actual name today is Santa Maria ad Martyrs.

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

Many public buses go to the Pantheon, you can take one of the following lines and get off at Argentina: 30, 40, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 190F, 492, 628, 016, N5, N6, N7, N15 or N20. Afterwards you will have to walk along Via dei Cestari.

The Pantheon is property of the Italian state and hence you do not have to pay entry when visiting. But there are many interesting guided tours available to learn more about the history of the Pantheon.

On weekdays the Pantheon in Rome is open from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm, Sundays from 9 am to 6 pm and on holidays that fall on a weekday from 9 am to 1 pm. 


4. Rome Churches: Sant’Ignazio di Loyola in Rome

Sant’Ignazio di Loyola in Rome, a Jesuit church in baroque style dates back to the 17th century. Look closely at the ceiling fresco. You will see a dome on the ceiling. However, the dome does not exist, but is an optical illusion. It is only painted.

Sant'Ignazio Rome

The painting in the center of the ceiling, ‘The Glory of Sant’Ignazio’, gives the impression of a second temple on top of the church. On the floor in the center is a mark from where the illusion is best visible.

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

The bus stop Minghetti on Via del Corso is served by the bus lines 62, 63, 83, 85, 160, 492, N4, N5 and N12. Then it’s a short walk to the church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola.

Admission to this Roman church is free.

During the week the church is open from 7.30 am to 7 pm and on Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm.

The next church is once again a Jesuit church, which you best visit at 5.30 p. Why? You will find out in a bit. From Sant’Ignazio take Via di Sant’Ignazio and then turn right onto Via del Piè di Marmo. At the next junction on the left you can see a huge marble foot, which belonged to the statue of an ancient goddess. 


5. Rome Churches: Chiesa del Gesù in Rome

Chiesa del Gesù in Rome, the Church of Jesus in English, is the main church of the Jesuits. The church was built in the 16th century and only has one nave. Once again, there are ceiling paintings with special effects in this church. The painting of the Triumph of the Name of Jesus is very well-known, as well as the altar of Ignazio di Loyola.

Chiesa del Gesu Rom inside

It is located to the left of the main altar in a side chapel. The altar of Ignatius of Loyola is a richly decorated altar, built like a theater. Between the columns of the altar is a painting, which is pulled up every day around 5.30 pm with music and special lighting. Behind it appears a gilded statue of the saint. You should not miss this!

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

The church is located between the stops Plebiscito (Piazza Venezia) and Argentina. At the bus stop Plebiscito the bus lines 30, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 190F, 492, 628, 016, N5, N6, N7, N15 and N20 stop.

Once again, entry is free to Chiesa del Gesù in Rome.

The church is open daily from 7 am to 12.30 pm and from 4 pm to 7.45 pm. At 5.30 pm the apparition of Sant’Ignazio with music and lights will take place in the left side chapel. 


6. Rome Churches: Basilica Sant Pietro in Vincoli in Rome

You will have to walk for about 1.4 km to get from Chiesa del Gesù to the Basilica Sant Pietro in Vincoli. The route passes by Piazza Venezia and over the Fori Imperiali, then left into Via Cavour and up the stairs of the Borgia up to the Basilica.

The basilica was rebuilt several times. The facade of the basilica with the porch of four arches is unimpressive. The interior of the basilica with the Doric columns, numerous paintings and grave sites, however, is beautifully decorated.

Moses by Michelangelo Rome

There is a relic under the altar. It is supposed to be the chains of Peter. On the right side is the empty tomb of Pope Julius II. Michelangelo had worked for 40 years on the tomb and it is today considered one of his greatest works. The statue of Moses is very famous. Due to a translation error of the Hebrew word, Michelangelo gave Moses ‘horns’, when actually he was supposed to be having ‘rays’, as written in the Old Testament. Pope Julius II. did not live to see the completion of the tomb and was therefore buried in the Vatican.

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

The fastest way to get to the Basilica Sant Pietro in Vincoli is by taking the metro line B and to get off at Cavour.

This church in Rome can be visited for free as well.

The basilica is accessible to visitors daily from 8 am to 12.30 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm. 


7. Rome Churches: Basilica St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome

If you have been to the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli, take the metro at the station Colosseo to get to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.

Today’s Basilica St. Paul Outside the Walls is not particularly old since the original church burned down in 1823. It was then rebuilt true to the original. I find this church interesting, because it gives visitors an idea of how churches were built in the early days. The original St. Peter’s had the same shape as the Basilica St. Paul Outside the Walls. The Apostle Paul is supposed to be buried underneath the basilica.

St. Paul Outside the Walls Rome

The layout of the basilica corresponds to a Latin cross. In front of the basilica is a square with the statue of St. Paul framed by four lobbies. The hall of the basilica is divided by columns into five naves. On the side walls  are great mosaics depicting all officially recognized popes from Peter to Francis.

Through the back of the basilica you will get through a passage to a baptistery. In the transept on the right leads to the cloister of the monastery. You have to pay an entrance fee for access. Below you can visit excavations that have come to light in recent years during construction work.

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

You can either get to the Basilica of St. Paul by metro line B at the Station San Paolo or by bus with the lines 23, 769, 792 or N2 at the station Viale San Paolo.

The entrance to the basilica is free. You can borrow an audioguide for 5 euros. The audioguide and entrance to the cloister of the monastery, the Pinakothek and the excavations is 8 euros.

The opening hours of the basilica are 7 am to 6.30 pm. 


8. Rome Churches: Santo Stefano Rotondo in Rome

If you are interested in the history and development of Christian churches, you should definitely visit the Santo Stefano Rotondo Church on the Caelius Hill in Rome.

The church is a rotunda from the 5th century and is similar in its architecture to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The altar is at the center. The rotunda is the central part of the church, on which transverse and longitudinal ships start. In fact, the central part of St. Peter’s is, between the four columns that support the dome, a rotunda as well.

Santo Stefano Rotondo Rome Tabernacle

In the hallway to the right of the entrance is a Baroque tabernacle from the 16th century, which looks quite similar to the central part of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

Access to Santo Stefano Rotondo in Rome is via bus 81 at the Navicella / Villa Celimontana stop. By foot you can reach the church from the Colosseum via Via Claudia.

Here again, you do not have to pay admission for entrance to the church.

This church in Rome is open every morning from 10 am to 1 pm, in the afternoon in winter from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm and in summer from 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm.

When you get out of the church, you will see an arc to the right of Villa Celimontana. Behind it begins Via di San Paolo della Croce, which leads very picturesquely down to the Circus Maximus. 


9. Rome Churches: Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Rome

The Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Rome is a popular church for weddings. The church tower stands apart from the basilica on the right side of the square. Under the church you can visit the excavations of Roman houses in which the two martyrs John and Paul had lived.
The construction of the church dates back to the 5th century. Before that, there were apartments and shops that can be visited under the church.

The nave of the church is supported by external arches that lead across the ancient road Clivo di Scauro. They were drafted in the 13th century. These bows are a wonderful photo opportunity. The interior of the basilica is also very impressive.

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

Bus 81 stops at Navicella / Villa Celimontana station, then passes through the Dolabella Arch and Via di San Paolo della Croce. By foot you can reach the church from the Colosseum via Via Claudia and from the Circus Maximus via the Salita di San Gregorio.

Admission is free. Entrance to the Roman houses under the Basilica is 8 euros. Young people from 12 to 18 years and persons with disabilities pay 6 euros.

The basilica is open daily from 8.30 am to 12 pm and from 3.30 pm to 6 pm. The sexton also opens the gate, which is located to the left of the church tower. From there you can look down into supply rooms of the Coliseum. The Roman houses under the basilica are open from 10 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 6 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are closed. 


10. Rome Churches: Basilica di Santa Sabina in Rome

During your stay in Rome you should definitely visit the Aventine Hill. It is one of the seven hills on which Rome has been built. You will have a great panoramic view from there and can also find two ancient basilicas. The Basilica di Santa Sabina in Rome was built in the 5th century and is a popular church for weddings. It was built on the tomb of Saint Sabine. Right next to the basilica is the orange garden, a popular view-point in Rome. next to the entry of the orange garden is a fountain.

Santa Sabina Aventine Rome wedding

You can climb up to the Aventine Hill  from Circus Maximus through the rose garden for example. The orientation is simple: you just keep going up and at the highest point you will find the basilica.

The basilica was built on the residence of the matron Sabine, from which you can still see a column in granite on the right wall. The 24 pillars supporting the nave are from the nearby temple of Queen Juno. On the left behind the entrance you can see a black stone on a winding column. Its name is the Devil’s Stone and legend has it that the devil threw it against Domenico Guzmán, the founder of the Dominican Order.

Praktische Tipps
How to get there, admission & opening hours

All hop-on hop-off buses have a stop at Circus Maximus. Public buses of the lines  81, 85, 87, 118, 628 and C3 also stop nearby. You can also take metro line B and get off at Circo Massimo.

Admission to the basilica is free.

The basilica di Santa Sabina in Rome is open daily from 8.15 am to 12.30 pm and from 3.30 pm to 6 pm. 

Right next to the Basilica di Santa Sabina is the Basilica of Saint Alexis which was built in the 4th century.

You should definitely go on to the mysterious square of the Order of Malta. There you will find a keyhole in a gate through which you can look directly at the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. Behind it is the priory of the Order of Malta. The Order is a sovereign state. However, its territory is confined to the Priory and to a building in Via dei Condotti near the Spanish Steps, where the headquarters are located.

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