Holy Cannoli: Top Sacred Sites in Rome

Every year, over 9 million tourists travel to Rome to see its sites. As you can see, it’s a highly popular destination. In fact, it’s one of the most visited cities in Europe!

With almost 3,000 years of history, Rome is rich with history and countless religious sites – here are the top sacred destinations in Rome.

1. Pantheon

The Pantheon in Rome - by Ben Holbrook.

The third incarnation of the Pantheon.

This is one of the most well-known architectural structures in Rome. Back in its earliest days, the Pantheon was constructed as a place of worship for Roman gods. However, in 608 AD, it was converted into a Christian church.

This building has the largest unreinforced concrete cupola (dome) in the world, which makes it an architectural wonder.

Today, the Pantheon celebrates St. Mary and the Martyrs. Every Saturday, it holds international masses.

Tip: The entrance is free, but if you want to go on any guided tours of Rome, you’ll have to pay and book in advance.

2. St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica main dome

St. Peter’s Basilica is located in the Vatican, which is technically within Rome. This is the world’s largest church building, which makes it a sight to behold.

In this Renaissance church, you’ll find many famous pieces of artwork by artists such as Michelangelo. You can also go to the top of the done where you’ll see a fantastic view of Rome. Do note you’ll have to pay for a ticket to do so.

Another thing you’ll have to keep in mind is that St. Peter’s Basilica is a Christian church, which makes it holy ground. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing when visiting.

3. Sistine Chapel

Tour Vatican City: The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter's Basilica

This is another sacred destination that’s located within Vatican City. Considering it’s one of the most visited places there, chances are, you’ve probably heard of it before.

Within this chapel, you’ll find scores of famous artwork by Renaissance painters. However, what its renowned for is “The Last Judgement” by Michelangelo. This is a large painting on the altar wall where you’ll find he’s painted over 300 people on the fresco!

Another famous part of the chapel is the ceiling, which Michelangelo also painted. This is where you’ll find the “Creation of Adam” painting.

4. Basilica of St. Clement

Basilica_San_Clemente_in_Rome

As the name suggests, this Roman Catholic church is dedicated to Pope Clement I.

What’s interesting about this basilica is it has separate parts built during different eras. For instance, on the very top, you have the part built in 1,100 AD.

Then, below it, you have a part that was built in the 4th century, and part of that was a Roman house from the 1st century (which was a church for a short time). And lastly, the basement was a Mithraeum in the 2nd century.

This site is technically a museum, but it’s within a neogothic church.

Inside, you’ll find tons of exhibits that show proof that a Christian purgatory is real. As you can guess, you’ll find various Bibles and other religious items on display.

What’s really interesting is you’ll also get to see supposed objects that have been touched by souls in purgatory. For instance, a burned hand mark on a Bible. These displays may just spook you.

5. Basilica of St. Paul

Basilica of St. Paul

The Basilica of St. Paul was built under the orders of Roman Emperor Constantine. This basilica marks the death site of St. Paul and was first consecrated in 324 AD.

As the years went by, each ruler embellished upon the basilica. Today, it’s been significantly beautified since its early days, which makes it truly a sight to behold. The basilica has 80 columns that wow every visitor.

St. Paul’s tomb and sarcophagus can be found in a crypt below that has a stucco-decorated ceiling.

6. Basilica of St. John Lateran

Basilica of St. John Lateran Rome

If you’re looking for the oldest cathedral in Rome, then you’ve got it right here. It was first constructed in 314 AD under Pope Melchiade and like the Basilica of St. Paul, this basilica was also consecrated in 324 AD.

Considering it’s ranked as one of the major 4 basilicas in Rome, you shouldn’t miss out on visiting this sacred destination. Since it’s gone through numerous natural disasters, it’s been built back up time and time again to be grander than the last.

For example, this basilica has the world’s tallest standing obelisk that was commissioned by an Egyptian Pharoah. Also, the ceiling is framed in gold and there are mosaics found all over the floors.

7. St. Peter in Chains

Le_catene_di_San_Pietro_in_Vincoli Rome

When you first come across this 5th-century church, it’ll look very small. However, once you step inside, you’ll be quite impressive.

Here, you’ll find one of Michelangelo’s famous statues, Moses. But that’s not the main attraction in this church.

Inside, you’ll find two fused chains. It’s believed that these are the chains that imprisoned St. Peter in Jerusalem.

While you’re in the church, make sure to enjoy the rest of the sights. For example, there’s a mosaic by St. Sebastian and a ceiling fresco called “The Miracle of the Chains.”

8. Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere

Maria_Trastevere_Rome

This basilica is also one of the oldest standing ones you’ll find in Rome. It’s extremely beautiful and was first erected in the 3rd century. However, much of the church that you see today was erected later in the 12th century.

If you’re looking for a church that’s not overrun with tourists, you’ll want to visit this one. The Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere is on the outside of the centre of Rome, so it’s less crowded in this church.

Visit These Sacred Destinations in Rome

As you can see, there are plenty of places to visit in Rome for sacred destinations. So the next time you travel to Italy, make sure to put these on your list so you can see some amazing sites to remember for a lifetime.


Make it Happen

Where to stay: Book a chic hotel or a more budget-friendly hostel at Booking.com – or book your own apartment in Rome with Airbnb.

Get there: I always use Omio to find the fastest and cheapest flights, trains and buses – perfect for getting to and around Paris.


More Journals from Rome

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ROME: THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO TO THE ETERNAL CITY

WELCOME PIRAM HOTEL (4*), ROME – TIMELESS STYLE IN THE CENTRO STORICO

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