The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore: The ancient church in Rome

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is an antique Catholic basilica recognized as the greatest of the Basilica’s dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome. It is one of the city’s four significant basilicas. The church summarizes Rome’s most essential Christian art stages. The most impressive aspect of The Basilica is the different components belonging to different historical periods. As if it were made up of remains, the church summarizes Rome’s most essential Christian art stages.

Price for combined ticket to visit The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore:

  • Adults: €3
  • Students and over 65s: €2

Visit Official Website (Vatican)

Schedule

Every day: 07:00 –18:30

Location

Rome, Italy

History and more about The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Built on an atheistic temple devoted to the goddess Cybele, The Basilica was built in the mid-fourth centenary under Pope Liberius. According to myth, the Virgin appeared with the instructions for constructing the church. Over the times, the basilica has had several different names, such as Santa Maria Liberiana, Saint Mary of the Snow, St. Mary of the Nativity. It was finally named Santa Maria Maggiore, as it is the greatest of the 26 churches in Rome devoted to the Virgin Mary.

Inside the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore represents varied architectural techniques, from early Christian to Baroque. The entire building was renovated during the XVIIIth centenary, so the facade and much of the interior date. Despite this, the Basilica retains the bell tower, some marble and mosaic floors from the ancient period, and some Ionic columns from other old Roman buildings, as well as splendid Vth centenary mosaics. The ceiling decoration has been protected from the Renaissance period, while the chapels and domes belong to the Baroque era.

The mosaics and walls

On the nave walls, above the entablature, mosaic panels dating back to the fifth century are still visible, an important artistic testimony of the Late Roman Empire era. The coffered ceiling dates back to Alexander VI Borgia (1492-1503). According to tradition, it was decorated with gold from the first expedition to America, a gift from Queen Isabella of Spain.

The triumphal arch is decorated with mosaics with episodes from the life of Jesus and Sixtus III. The apse contains a beautiful mosaic signed by Jacopo Torriti from the end of the 13th century. It represents the coronation of the Virgin between Nicholas IV, Giacomo Colonna, and the Saints. In the lower part, the Jordan River is designated with boats and swans and, between the windows, scenes from Mary’s life. Below, marble bas-reliefs from Mino del Reame date back to around 1474.