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Tour of Three Major Basilicas

Enjoy the jewels of Christian architecture: San Paolo Fuori le Mura, San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore
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Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 5.8 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview:  This trip leads you to three of the biggest and most magnificent basilicas in Rome.

After the defeat of the last Roman emperor,... more »

Tips:  The trip starts in front of the Coliseum (Colosseo), the world-famous symbol of Rome. Catch the subway (Line B, blue) in front of the ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Junction: Subway Colosseo

The entry to the subway station is in front of the Colosseo on the Via dei Fori Imperiali. The trip to S. Paolo station lasts about 15 minutes.

2. Junction: Subway S. Paolo

Watch for the station and get off here.

3. Piazzale di Sao Paolo

After passing in front of the campanile, the lane to reach the main entry is on the left, on St. Paul's place, which is more than 130 meters long.

This garden surrounded by columns was erected during the 19th century. In the middle of the garden, there's a statue of St. Paul; this sculpture dates from the 19th century. The mosaic over the entry is also recent.

This entry, with the two palm trees, the golden mosaic, the columns and the majestic sculpture of St. Paul with his sword, is the... More

St. Paul's Basilica is Rome's largest basilica after St. Peter's Basilica. Its base is 130 meters long by 65 meters wide and it rises to a height of 30 meters. On each side there's a forest of 80 huge monolithic granite columns from the 19th century.

As for St. Peter's Basilica, San Paulo Fuori le Mura was built during the fourth century by the... More

6. The cloister

The cloister of the monastery was built between 1220 and 1241 by Vassaletto. The small columns are encrusted with marble and gold. This work is among the finest ever produced. Remnants of the former basilicas are exposed in the cloister.

The basilica was built by Sixtus III (432-440). The 14th century campanile is the highest in the city at 75 meters. The church is an extraterritorial property of the Vatican according to the Lateran Treaty signed in 1929 between Italy and the Holy See. So, by passing through the door of the church, you leave Italy.

It is the world's oldest church... More

This basilica is famous for its mosaics. Home to the oldest Christian mosaics in Rome (fifth century), they depict Old Testament events and, on the big arch, the Annunciation, the Epiphany (visit of the three kings to the newborn Christ) and the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The apostles are symbolized by ewes.

Below the basilica is the... More

9. Porta di San Giovanni

This door was carved during the 16th century in the battlements built by Aurelius during the third century. On the right just past the door there is a sculpture of St. Francis of Assisi commemorating the visit to the Pope Innocentus III by St. Francis in 1210 in this basilica.

As the official cathedral of Rome, it is the seat of the bishop of Rome, in other words, the pope. Oldest among the four papal basilicas, it claims the title of ecumenical mother church.

In 312, Constantine won his battle against Maxence and invaded Rome, stopping the Christian massacres. That's when he erected this basilica. Following several... More

11. Battistero

This was erected by the Emperor Constantine together with the basilica. All Roman Christians were baptized here during the fourth century. This small building has been renovated several times, however, and is thus quite different from its original construction.