A Day of Spectacular Churches in Rome
We are truly fortunate to live only 1.5 hours from Rome by train. Since we moved to Italy in April of 2014, we have been to Rome a number of times. Rome is a city that never disappoints. There is always something interesting to see or do and, if you're worn out looking at churches or monuments you can always just sit and watch the Romans who are a handsome and stylish bunch of Italians.
This last Thursday we decided to take the train and spend the day looking at several churches that we've wanted to visit. We were not disappointed. In fact, we are still wondering how so many beautiful structures can exist in one city (there are 900 churches in Rome!).
The Basilica of San Clemente doesn't look like much from the outside, but it is an incredibly complex and interesting structure. It has three levels: the lowest is a temple devoted to the cult of Mithras (1st Century A.D.), the second is a 4th Century church and the top level is a 12 Century Basilica. Unfortunately, I have no pictures from this church as they are not allowed.
Next we visited San Giovanni in Laterano which was founded by Constantine in the 4th Century. This is an amazing structure which has seen a number of transformations notably in 1646 when the inside was restructured. Before the papacy moved to Avignon in 1309, the adjoining Lateran Palace was the official papal residence. Here's a small gallery of photos for you to enjoy:
What trip to Rome would be complete without a nice lunch! We had a pleasant meal at an Ostaria called I Clementini nearby San Clemente.
Our final stop was at Santa Maria Maggiore which is only a short distance from the main train terminal. It was founded in 420 A.D. and lined with panels of 5th Century mosaics. We started out by going upstairs to view an amazing Mosaics from the 13th Century.
Something unique happened while we were wandering inside the church. Suddenly, from one of the side chapels, a Cardinal with his entourage marched to the alter and perform an evening Vesper for the Epiphany. The singing was profoundly beautiful. Neither of us has ever experienced something like this. Even as a "failed" Catholic, I found this to be a wonderful experience.
We were overwhelmed by the beauty and scale of the churches we visited. It's really hard to describe how one feels when visiting Rome. It is a place that radiates history, art and culture with a resonance which doesn't exist in the New World. One minute you're standing in front of a nice boutique with modern clothes and the next, you're wandering through ancient structures where people worshiped pagan gods long before Christianity existed.