Basilica di San Vitale

Basilica di San Vitale, Rome

Basilica di San Vitale
4.5
Points of Interest & Landmarks • Churches & Cathedrals
About
Suggested duration
< 1 hour
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Plan your visit

The area
Address
Neighborhood: Centro
How to get there
  • Barberini - Fontana di Trevi • 7 min walk
  • Repubblica - Teatro dell'Opera • 7 min walk
Best nearby
Restaurants
8,005 within 3 miles
Attractions
2,028 within 6 miles
Popular mentions

4.5
65 reviews
Excellent
30
Very good
28
Average
7
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0
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0

dapper777
Monaco32,075 contributions
Jul 2020 • Friends
Right off Via Nazionale, and very close to Repubblica Metro stop, the church was built in an area between the Viminal and Esquilin hills at the beginning of the 5th century on the orders of Pope Innocent I.
It was rebuilt by Sixtus IV in 1475 and subsequently restored in 1595 by Clement VIII while in 1859 Pius IX, for the construction of Via Nazionale and due to the raising of the street level, built a connecting staircase.
The extremely simple façade is preceded by the aforementioned staircase and a canopy portico, with five arches on ancient columns.
Noteworthy is the fifteenth-century portal with the pope's coat of arms Sixtus IV and the wooden panels of the door with scenes of the martyrdoms of St. Gervase and St. Protase, sons of St. Vitalis
The interior, originally consisting of three naves, was reduced to only one during the restorations of 1475.
The large walls were frescoed in the sixteenth century by Tarquinio Ligustri with apparently bucolic scenes, but in reality very interesting and dramatic episodes of sufferings and deaths of martyrs.
The paintings had an educational purpose. They functioned as a training-ground for apostolic work, in the Roman as well as in the international context.
This particular and unique church is worth a visit!
If you walk along Via Nazionale, you won't see it easily.
In fact it is not very visible because you have to go down a staircase to be able to visit it.
It is a beautiful and quiet church where you feel good.
Written September 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

nellielim
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia4,110 contributions
Oct 2018 • Family
This Basilica is located on Via Nazionale and dates back to the 4th century. An access stairwell takes you down to the church which lies below the street level. The church used to stand on an old Roman street which was mostly destroyed when Via Nazionale was built. Its simple exterior belies the cool and quiet interior with beautiful frescoes on the walls and lovely wooden door. This is a hidden gem worth a visit.
Written December 11, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Jeffrey R
Tampa, FL356 contributions
Jul 2018 • Couples
The Basilica San Vitale is an incongruous site on Via Nazionale - it sits well below street grade, at the bottom of a bit flight of stairs, between a large museum and taller, newer buildings. We ran across it wandering around after seeing the better-known Bernini chapel up the hill behind it. The outside look is some kind of Roman building (it's classical Early Christian), and its entirely unadorned outside. Inside, however, is entirely different! The building is just a box with an apse at the back, but the walls are entirely covered in frescoes - and the frescoes are of columns and building structure as well as holy images (a classic Roman trick!), which gives the place a much more spacious feel. By virtue of its position below grade the church is cool (important in a Roman summer!). and very quiet - a wonderful venue for contemplating the celestial and holy. This church doesn't get a lot of "press" among Roman places to see, and that's undeserved - it's a unique gem of ancient religious architecture that is worth a visit all on its own.
Written August 1, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

sugarcone
Amman, Jordan359 contributions
Jul 2018 • Friends
During my visit to Rome, I used to walk around my hotel area, I was not aware of what was at the bottom of the stairs going down at the side of the sidewalk. When I decided to come down these stairs I found an amazing hidden gem.
It one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture that stands in Europe, and it is one of eight Ravenna structures inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Written July 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Scotty102
Innerleithen, UK600 contributions
May 2018 • Solo
Very old church which is very easy to miss. Down a step flight of steps. Quite large inside and wonderfully decorated, a real hidden gem and well worth the visit.
Written June 12, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

WImom
Fond du Lac, WI2,338 contributions
Jan 2018 • Couples
This beautiful church is very easy to miss. We stayed near here in Rome two years ago and never stumbled upon it. Down a long flight of steps on Via Nazionale, this 5th century church was built by the Romans. Beautiful frescoes from the 1600s, especially on either side of the altar. One of them depicts the martyrdom of San Vitale, whom the church is named after. Free.
Written January 19, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Matt H
Kent, UK76 contributions
May 2017 • Solo
As other visitors have described this Basilica is down a flight of steps, which seemed to deter a number of other tourists whilst I was sitting on the wall at the top of the steps. It is however, definitely worth a visit. It is cool, and was quiet on both occasions I visited. And you can sit in peace as the world races by up on Via Nazionale. The walls are painted with a number of, presumably biblical, but gruesome scenes - people being buried alive under stones, or having their heads loped off, or being set upon by lions. Great stuff. What I really liked was the fact that whoever had designed/funded the building obviously had the desire to include granite columns in a variety of types and hues within the design. Not having the funds to accomplish this they have instead opted for the cheaper but fun effect of painting all of the columns they wanted in different styles of granite. Marvellous.
Written May 1, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

nrm77
London, UK1,086 contributions
Jun 2016 • Couples
This is a wonderful little basilica quote close to the Termini station. It’s about 20 minutes walk from the station and it is a rather quiet around here and hence it is a beautiful setting and a place to just sit and marvel the Roman architecture and the wonderful artistry of the artisans involved. Very good to sit here and reflect on your thoughts. Easy to miss this place but definitely worth a visit if you are looking for some peace and quiet.
Written September 4, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Nolinice
Oakville, Canada2,721 contributions
Jun 2016 • Family
Step down in this deep sanctuary well above the street level and enjoy history and faith at his fullest. Such a beautiful and restive church on one of the busiest streets of the capital
Written June 28, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Toddxox
Stevens Point, WI228 contributions
So old it is well below street level. from the outside you may pass it by and not notice it. It is definitely worth stopping in to see the interior. Also not crowded so a great opportunity to sit and reflect for a while.
Written March 27, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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