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Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore


39 reviews of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

See Roberto Gonzalez's photos
22 photos

Icon of faith

None of the great Roman basilicas represent a mixture of different styles so skillfully as Santa Maria Maggiore.

Her triple-hall format is lined with columns from the original 5th-century building. The floor is made of cosmatesque white marble and the charming and romantic bell tower is from the medieval era.

There is also a Renaissance ceiling, a gift of Pope Alexander VI, which is said to have been done with the first gold brought from the Americas. The mosaics in the apse are incredible and the entire temple seems to glow in gold, silver, bronze, and sterling white marble. Outside, you find the grand obelisk erected by Pope Sixtus V to guild pilgrims to the door, as if the massive and monumental church wasn't enough.

Now, let's give some credit to the legend of its foundation in 352. Apparently, the Pope had a dream in which the Virgin commanded him to build a church on the next spot where he found snow. After a hot August night, the Pope woke up and to his surprise found snow on the Esquiline. The Pope obeyed and built his church. The miracle of the snow is celebrated every year when hundred of white flower pedals are strewn from the roof of the church. The pedals were originally from roses but now they're from dahlias.
Roberto Gonzalez
See lamaga's photos
4 photos

The miracle of the snow

According to legend, the Virgin herself appeared before Pope Liberius in 356 and instructed him where to locate this basilica. Then, on August 5th of that year, it snowed in the small enclave where the basilica currently stands.

Over the years, the basilica has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. The main facade is done in the mid-18th century Baroque style. Under the porch, there is an imposing bronze statue in honor of King Philip IV of Spain, a great patron of the arts and a regular in Rome at the time. The whole thing is quite impressive. Despite all the restorations, the interior of the church is still pretty close to its original 5th-century look. There are 40 massive Ionic columns, most made from a single block of marble, which divide the basilica into three grand halls. Many of the major improvements and renovations were undertaken in the Middle Ages. These include the creation of the new apses and the restoration of the choir area.

The dome of Santa Maria Maggiore is interesting because of the history behind the materials and insignia. If you look around the panels, you'll see the coat of arms of the famous Borgia family. One curious thing is that the gilded ceilings are made from gold brought back from the Americas. This is traditionally a Spanish technique not often seen in Italy where ceilings were traditionally made from marble.

The mix of history and idiosyncratic details the early Christian mosaics, the Baroque facade, the medieval choir, and the domes from Spanish colonialism is what makes this church so special.
See Almudena's photos
16 photos

Built on a pagan temple

It was built on a pagan temple dedicated to Cybele, and is, along with Santa Sabina, the only Roman church retaining the strictly basilican plan and primitive Christian structure. However, it's not in its original state as there were several additional projects and because it was necessary to repair fire damage from the 1348 earthquake. Its interior is richly decorated, is 86 meters long and is divided into 3 naves with columns with Ionic capitals, its beautiful paneling is particularly striking, which they say is covered with gold brought by the first Spanish that conquered America.
See Belén G. Bonorino's photos
5 photos

Spectacular interior

Santa Maria Maggiore is a basilica located in the old part of Rome and is part of the five patriarchal basilicas of Rome. Its structure still retains the basilica layout, with a spectacular interior and minuscule details. Its galleries are fantastic and it has great dimensions. It is one of the largest basilicas in Rome and I highly recommend those who love religious art to visit. A detail to admire: The golden coffers of the main nave.
Belén G. Bonorino
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Pamela Ferrari
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Pau García Solbes
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Anne-Laure Caquineau
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Marie & Matt
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Viviane Gusmao
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nicolino lia neto
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Davide Oricchio
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Information about Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Phone Number
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Address
Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore
Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore
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