Five Beautiful Basilica in Rome

Basilica referred to Roman’s architecture with halls with high ceiling and three long aisles. The ancient Romans used Basilica as public court or indoor markets. After the Christianity was legalized by Roman’s Emperor Constatine, several Roman’s Basilica were re-modeled as worship places. However, in Catholic world, a church called as a Basilica after special privileged and acknowledgement by the Pope. There are two type of Basilica: Major Basilica (Papal) and Minor Basilica. Only four Basilica in the world are considered as Major Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican territory is a Major Basilica, meanwhile the three other Basilica are located in Rome.

I visited three Major Basilica and two Minor Basilica while in Rome. These five Basilica have beautiful architectures and worth to visit even if you are not a Catholic or religious.

Major Basilica: Basilica Papale San Paolo Fuori le Mura

Its English name is The Papal Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls. It is located outside of Aurelian Walls surrounding Rome as part of defensive walls. Emperor Constatine built the Basilica above Saint Paul’s grave to honor his martyr. Saint Paul the Apostle was beheaded during the regime of Roman’s Emperor Nero around 65-67 A.D. My favorite part of this Basilica is its entrance square garden that surrounded by four sided portico with tall arches. I think this is the most beautiful Basilica in Rome, but of course, this is my personal opinion.

Website: Basilica Papale San Paolo Fuori le Mura

Major Basilica: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica of St. Mary Major is the largest Roman Catholic Church dedicated to respect the mother of Jesus, Mary. It is located near to Termini Station. Some articles praised the Basilica as the most beautiful Major Basilica after the St. Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica has  a papal altar that can only be used by the pope himself or a priest after the pope’s special permission. The pope usually leads a mass in this Basilica every 15th August to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Below the altar is a Confessio or Chapel of the Confession.

Website: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Major Basilica: Basilica di San Giovani in Laterno

St. John Lateran’s Basilica is often being referred as mother and head of all Catholic churches in the world because it is the pope’s church. I am not sure what does the pope’s church mean, maybe because it used to be the pope’s residence before the residence moved to Vatican. History of Catholicism has been ongoing for thousands years, it has complexity that often confused me. The Basilica ranked as number one by Tripadvisor Things to Do in Rome. As you enter the Basilica, you will see twelve massive sculptures of the apostles, created by several sculptors in between of 1700 to 1718. The architecture of the building is impressive. It has several chapels with beautiful dome. One of them has a dome that almost similar to Pantheon’s dome.

Website: Basilica di San Giovani in Laterno

Basilica Sacro Cuore di Gesu a Castro Pretorio

Its English name is Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Praetorian Barracks. This is a Minor Basilica that located near to Termini Station and built in 1887. The Basilica has huge Jesus statue with gold plated. The Basilica is smaller compared to the three Major Basilica. It has two long aisles with saucer domes. The nave has coffered ceiling with paintings and wooden carved.

Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli

The Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven is a Minor Basilica that located on the Capitoline Hill. The location is in between of National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II and Hilltop square designed by Michelangelo, Campidoglio. The large staircase of 124 marble steps leads up to the entrance of the Basilica often called as Stairway to Heaven. The coffered ceiling built in 16th century with theme to commemorate the battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Basilica in Rome is free admission and opens for tourists. You have to pay entrance fee when you wish to enter their museums (not the church area). I recommend to visit at least the three Major Basilica when in Rome as their architectures are stunning with impressive arts details. Additionally, they are not too crowded by tourists. However, please respect other visitors who visit these Basilica for religious purposes. I avoided the use of camera flash when inside a Basilica as it could disturb other visitors.

Camera lenses for images in this post:

Fisheye Lens 8 mm ƒ/3.5
Prime Lens 14 mm ƒ/2.5
more on my photography gear, please visit: indahs photography gear

135 replies

    • Hi Jackson, thank you! I am sure you will enjoy them..btw, the churches in Rome is free entrance and they have beautiful architectures and history, worth to try your camera for photography..bring tripod too!