Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Archbasilica of St. John in the Lateran), Rome

Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Archbasilica of St. John in the Lateran), Rome

St. John's Archbasilica, not St. Peter's Basilica, holds the distinction of being Rome's cathedral. Emperor Constantine commissioned the construction of this grand church, predating the establishment of St. Peter's, making it the primary ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope. Throughout its history, the edifice has faced challenges such as vandalism, earthquakes, and fires, leading to extensive restorations in the 16th and 17th centuries. Notably, the interior was artfully designed by the renowned Baroque genius Borromini. Standing tall on the impressive facade are colossal statues representing the 12 apostles, Christ, John the Baptist, and the Virgin Mary.

While much of the structure has undergone restoration, fragments from earlier periods remain. Adorning the left portico stands an ancient statue of Constantine, while the central portal boasts ancient bronze doors transferred from the Curia in the Roman Forum. Inside, the altar features a magnificent Gothic tabernacle, dating back to 1367, which is believed to house the revered heads of St. Peter and St. Paul. A captivating sight awaits in the last chapel of the left aisle, where a cloister adorned with 12th-century cosmatesque mosaics can be admired. Just around the corner, Emperor Constantine's octagonal baptistery stands as one of Rome's oldest Christian structures. Despite multiple restorations, a 17th-century redecoration, and even a car bombing in 1993 associated with the Mafia, the baptistery has preserved its ancient form, serving as a testament to its enduring significance.

Why You Should Visit:
Filled with the history of the early Catholic Church; splendid in its architecture, light, and artwork.

Tip:
Don't miss the opportunity to visit the cloister behind the archbasilica. Although there is a small fee, it grants you access to a collection of authentic antiquities dating back to pre-Roman times, as well as a selection of intriguing Catholic relics.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Rome. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Archbasilica of St. John in the Lateran) on Map

Sight Name: Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Archbasilica of St. John in the Lateran)
Sight Location: Rome, Italy (See walking tours in Rome)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Rome, Italy

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Travel Distance: 6.9 Km or 4.3 Miles
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