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9 Amazing Religious Sites In Rome For Everyone To See

There is no shortage of religious sites in Rome, which is obvious considering its history, but if you aren’t sure where to begin, this should be your guide.

religious sites in Rome

The staggering number of religious sites in Rome is deeply rooted in its historical and cultural evolution. The city served as the epicenter of the ancient Roman Empire, where the collection and acceptance of diverse belief systems was a hallmark. With the advent of Christianity, Rome emerged as a focal point for the burgeoning faith, hosting religiously significant events in its early history.

The layers of religious history, from ancient pagan temples in the Roman Forum to Renaissance masterpieces, create an amazing mosaic of faiths that continues to draw visitors and pilgrims alike. Rome’s religious sites are not just architectural marvels but living monuments to the city’s enduring spiritual legacy.

What Is The Most Religious Site In Rome?

I would find it hard to believe that anyone would disagree with me that the more religious site in Rome is Vatican City. It is the seat of the Catholic Church and Vatican City, which is an independent country within the city of Rome, is central to Catholics around the world.

9 Amazing Religious Sites In Rome

My list of 9 of my favorite religious sites in Rome is just that, my opinion. They aren’t all religiously significant, like the Vatican, but some are and others are places I visited that I found interesting and unique to my experiences. Also, while I have no doubt there are sites in Rome that are significant to other faiths, like the Great Synagogue of Rome’s Jewish Quarter, which I found historically important, my tastes in architecture and history are a little bit different. When you visit Rome, consider adding these religious sites to your list of sites to visit.

The Vatican And St. Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican And St. Peter’s Basilica are the smallest independent and sovereign country and the largest church in the world that you need to see. The Vatican City State is an ecclesiastical monarchy ruled by the Pope, who is the bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church. The beauty and importance can not be overstated, which is why it is first on my list.

religious sites in Rome - St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

In addition, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the 7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome and I would say it is the most important. The tradition of visiting all seven churches was started back in the 16th century in order to combine conviviality and the sharing of a common religious experience through the discovery of the history of the early Saints. Other pilgrim churches are on the list as well.

The Basilica of St. John Lateran

The Basilica of Saint John in Lateran, which is part of the Diocese of Rome, serves as the seat of the bishop of Rome, also known as The Pope. The San Giovanni church is outside of Vatican City, however, as properties of the Vatican, the church and its offices have a unique status from Italy, pursuant to the terms of the Lateran Treaty of 1929. It is also one of the 7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome.

In addition to the beauty and being the home of the Bishop of Rome (a.k.a. The Pope), this 1700 year old church also provides more current value to the community as the home of the annual Workers’ Day (or May Day or Labor Day) concert and celebration held on its front lawn every year. The concert is organized by the Italian trade unions, so it is also used as a platform to promote workers’ rights.

The Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside The Walls

The Basilica of Saint Lawrence Outside The Walls is one of Rome’s minor papal basilicas, as well as being one of the 7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome. It is next to one of Rome’s largest and historic Verano Cemetery (Cimitero del Verano) and is a shrine to its namesake, San Lorenzo. 

religious sites in Rome - st. lawrence

St. Lawrence Basilica

One interesting story about this basilica is why St. Lawrence is the Patron Saint of Chefs and Comedians. St. Lawrence was strapped to the top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted him alive. The legend is that God gave him so much strength that Saint Lawrence was able to joke with his captors while he died.

Climbing The Scala Sancta

The Holy Stairs (Scala Santa in Italian and Scala Sancta in Latin) are a major part of the Pilgrims Trail and they are right across the street from the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran. These are believed to be the 28 steps that make up the staircase are exactly the same ones that Jesus climbed several times on the day of his death sentence in the palace of Pontius Pilate. Hence the name of Scala Pilati or Scala Sancta.

Inside The Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon is one of the most beautiful and well preserved ancient sites in Rome and it took three tries to build it in the Piazza della Rotonda. The first version of the Pantheon, which was started in 27 BC and completed in 17 BC, burned to ground. The exact form of the Pantheon is debated because of the destruction of everything except for the façade. It was rebuilt under Emperor Domitian in 80 AD, but it burned down a second time in 110 AD. The third version of this temple was built in 127 AD under the reign of Hadrian. The structure of the building was wood, which is why it was able to burn down repeatedly.

Three Generations Of San Clemente In Rome

The Basilica of Saint Clement near the Colosseum is worth experiencing because of the three levels of the complex that contains the cathedral. The top level is the Roman basilica of San Clemente and it was built in the year 1100 AD. The next level down, on which the basilica was built, is a 4th century basilica built in a home that had previously been a church as well. This had been built on top of a villa from the times of the Roman Republic that had been destroyed during the Great Fire of Rome that occurred in 64 AD.

religious sites in Rome - Round Church

The Round Church

The Unique Experience Of San Stefano Rotondo

The Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo is a Catholic basilica in the Celio district of Rome, Italy. It was built in the 5th century, it has changed names over the centuries and since its construction it has been the headquarters of the namesake Cardinal. It is unique because of the circular plan that consisted of three concentric circles. This round church also has some amazing frescoes that are also worth a visit. 

Caravaggio Paintings In Rome At Waiting For You At Church

The most famous Caravaggio artwork can be found in Rome and this French church offers an amazing experience at no cost for the budget traveler. My favorite of his works on display in Rome is the cycle of Saint Matthew in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. These three paintings, which I believe are considered to be a triptych, are tucked away in the corner chapel of the church and definitely worth visiting. Best of all, admission to the church is free, and if you don’t want to spend €2 to turn on the lights for viewing, just wait a few minutes and someone will do it for you.

religious sites in Rome - small church

Small Church

The Beauty Of A Small Church In Rome Must Be Experienced

The Madonna dell’Archetto is the smallest church in Rome and was built in the 19th century and is an amazing contrast to the grand basilicas all around the city. The small church is in the Trevi district and near Piazza Venezia (Via di San Marcello 41b). The official name of the church is “The Church of Santa Maria Causa Nostrae Laetitiae”. For those of us that don’t know Latin, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae means: “The Cause of our Joy”.

Other Religious Sites In Rome, and Beyond

I have only highlighted my favorite religious sites in Rome, but there is so much more. If you enjoyed this selection, here are a list of other sites in Rome and beyond that you might also find interesting:

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