There are around 900 churches in and around Rome. When making this list, we really had to put a small part of this huge list. If you are visiting Rome, you have to decide which ones are worth a visit. Let us decide the MUST SEE churches in Rome.
These are the most important and beautiful churches of Rome:
1. Saint Peter Basilica (Basilica San Pietro).
The biggest and most important christian church in the world. Saint Peter is a masterpiece, the result of the work of many important architects over the years: Raphael, Bramante, Antonio da Sangallo, Michelangelo, Bernini are only some of the geniuses that put their hands on it and made it the most beautiful church in the world. You just have to see it to really understand.
2. Saint John Lateran (Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano).
The first Chiristian church that has ever been built. For this reason it’s called “the Mother of all churches”. This is the Cathedral of Rome, where there is the seat (cathedra) of the bishop of Rome. It’s a real beauty that leaves everyone speechless when enetering inside.
3. Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica.
Also Called Our Lady of the Snows because of a legend saying that the Church was built where a miraculous snow fell down during a hot summer day of August. This is a very old church that maintained its original base. The Cosmati floor, the golden ceiling and the lateral Chapels make it one of the most beautiful and rich churches that you will see in Rome.
4. Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls (Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura).
The church is a perfectly successful reconstruction of the original from the 4th century. According to the christian tradition, it was built over the Tomb of Saint Paul, that’s why it’s not inside the Walls. At that time, tombs were prohibited inside the city walls. The external golden Mosaic of the façade is just magnificent.
5. Basilica di San Clemente
This church is unique because you can see 4 different levels inside. They belong to 4 different historical periods. You can find a pagan edifice, a Mithraeum, a Roman house and 2 churches one on top of the other. The church is extremely rich in history.
6. Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli
In this church you can find the Chains that Saint Peter had when he was a prisoner in Jerusalem. The two chains miraculously melted together when they were found. But the most important masterpiece of the church is the Mose by Michelangelo that should have been part of a Mausoleum for the Pope Julius the II.
7. Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo
This church contains works of Caravaggio, Bernini, Raffaello, Pinturicchio, Carracci. Some of the most important artists of the Italian history of Art. This is not a famous tourist destination so you can enjoy the masterpieces without the crowd. The church appeared also in the movie Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.
8. Santa Maria ad Martyres
The Pantheon was a pagan temple, dedicated to all the Gods. It’s the best preserved monument of the Ancient Rome. Its Dome has inspired many architects around the world. Still today, it’s considered a masterpiece of engineering, the hole, or Oculus, on top of the ceiling makes it look even more beautiful and unique. Today it is a christian church, one of the most important in Rome.
9. Sant’Andrea della Valle
The church features the third biggest dome in Rome and on of the first baroque style ceiling that has been made. It is a masterpiece made by Lanfranco, very interesting is the comparison with the nearby Pennacchi made by Domenichino in a very classical style. The church is also present in the famous Opera work “la Tosca”.
10. Sant’ Ignazio da Loyola
An important baroque church in the heart of the city. It is dedicated to San’t Ignazio da Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus religious congregation whose members are called the Jesuits. The first thing that you will notice inside the church is that the Dome is painted, with a special technique called Trompe L’Oeil to make it look real, and it really looks real if you don’t know it.
11. Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs (Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri)
This is a very special church as it was built inside the Thermal Baths of Diocletian. We still can see the roman ruins when visiting the church. Michelangelo converted the complexe into a Christian church.
12. Santa Maria in Trastevere.
The first church dedicated to Mary and one of the oldest churches in Rome. It is located on a lovely square in Trastevere district. The tympanum is wonderfully decorated with golden mosaics. The legend says that the first chapel was built here where oil was pouring out of the ground in the 1st century AD.
13. Church of the Gesù (Chiesa del Gesù)
This is a Jesuits church built during the counterreformation period. It is localted near the Capitol Hill and Piazza Venezia. The ceiling is beautiful with images of the Triumph of Jesus by Baciccia.
14. San Luigi dei Francesi
This French church is famous for the Caravaggio paintings commissioned by the powerful cardinal Matteo Contarelli. In the Contarelli Chapel, you can find the very famous trilogy “Calling of St Matthew”, the Martyr of St Matthew and vocation of St Matthew
15. Santa Maria della Vittoria
This is a beautiful Baroque church inside the city centre. The one masterpiece that makes this church so famous is the Ecstasy of Santa Teresa, a wonderful sculptural group made by Gianlorenzo Bernini. The most important italian Baroque artist.