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“Art and Architeture”

Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano
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Small-Group Tour Crypts the Bone Chapel and Catacombs
Ranked #23 of 1,477 things to do in Rome
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Owner description: Constructed between 1110 and 1130, this church of San Clemente is not one, but three churches built one above the other, with ruins dating from the earliest Christian times.
Texas City, Texas
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Art and Architeture”
Reviewed September 29, 2013

a beautiful building and the best melding of art and religion. From the floors to the ceiling there is so much detail to take in. Every few feet there is another inset area with more things to see.

Visited September 2013
Thank lanae_campbell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
36 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“To understand the history of Rome, start here”
Reviewed September 28, 2013 via mobile

I really can't recommend this fascinating place too highly. If all you got was the 12th century basilica, complete with what must surely actually be 5th century mosaic (much more interesting than the one in Santa Maria Maggiore), you'd have one of the best churches to visit in Rome. But when you take into account what is under the church, this is reall unmissable for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the great panorama of Rome's history from classical city through the religious melting pot of late antiquity and up to its pre-eminent position in Medieval Europe.

For a pitiful five euros, you can descend into the excavations beneath the current basilica, where a fourth century church lies, one of those built when Rome was a newly-minted Christian city, in the first century after Constantine's conversion; you can look up at the hole in the wall where a 19th century clergyman, in a fabulously non-clerical archaeological adventure, broke through and found the ancient walls below his church, complete with frescos and inscriptions. Then imagine the excitement as they explored further down, where, flooded at the time by an underwater lake, traces of an even earlier past materialised; a Roman house, a temple of the secret cult of Mithras, and even a wall from a building left behind after the great fire of 64.

Buy a little guidebook for 4 euros; not only does it talk you through each level (especially useful when you get down to the first century remains on the lowest level), it also has three plans in transparent paper, so you can see how the three levels of the structure fit in top of each other.

(this is also a great place to buy postcards, the quirky close ups of the birds and animals on the apse mosaic are a great alternative to that view of the Colosseum and will be something your friends at home probably HAVEN'T seen before).

If you want to walk where Romans have walked for millennia, and properly visualise how the modern city stands on the shoulders of the ancient one, this is the finest place to do it.

Visited September 2013
Thank MirandaMEJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
55 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Terribly Interesting”
Reviewed September 27, 2013

Do the subterranean tour for a chance to walk 2000 years into the past.

Amazing that these structures survived and that they are open for tours.

Makes me wonder what else is below ground that is not open to the public?

Visited August 2013
Thank JimR3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
13 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Must see church!”
Reviewed September 27, 2013

We toured this church while in Rome. Unfortunately we were with a large tour group which took away from some of the experience. I would highly recommend making this a priority visit if you are in Rome. It is absolutely fascinating to travel through time as you descend to the excavations below! I only wish we would have had more time to explore this on our own!

Visited September 2013
Thank Sarah Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Westminster, Colorado
Level Contributor
296 reviews
103 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Four layers of time and civilizations in one place”
Reviewed September 27, 2013

We took a Walks of Italy tour that included the Basilica, and so enjoyed all of the descriptions and explanations, as we walked through the story of how the present church was built in the 12th century, forgetting that there was history below, in fact. Water running below ignited his curiosity, until he instructed a dig, and discovered an entire structure below, from the 4th century. Not to be outdone by discovery of this, they then sought the source of the running water and found below another 2nd century temple to the Persian/Roman God Mithrais. All of this, in one place, available to see and experience in the 21st century. What a joy it was to have a guide to help us with understanding and vision.

Visited September 2013
Thank judith l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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