Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major), Rome

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major), Rome (must see)

As the largest among the 26 churches in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Basilica of Saint Mary Major holds a significant place in history. Originally constructed by Pope Liberius in the 4th century, the church has undergone renovations and enhancements by successive popes while still retaining its early medieval structure. The colonnaded nave, an integral part of the original 5th-century building, offers a glimpse into its ancient origins. The medieval era contributed the captivating Cosmatesque marble floor and the delightful Romanesque bell tower adorned with intricate blue ceramic roundels. During the Renaissance, a new coffered ceiling was introduced, while the Baroque period left its imprint with twin domes and grand facades at the front and rear.

However, the true splendor of Saint Mary Major lies in its mosaics, which are among the oldest in Rome. The biblical scenes adorning the aisles date back to the 5th century, captivating visitors with their artistic depiction. The mosaics on the triumphal arch are particularly breathtaking, showcasing the skill and craftsmanship of the time. Among the medieval highlights is a magnificent 13th-century mosaic featuring an enthroned Christ in the loggia, adding to the artistic treasures within the basilica.

In 2001, Pope John Paul II inaugurated the Basilica Museum, dedicated to the history of the church and the spread of Catholicism throughout the world. Here you will see ecclesiastical paintings, ritual vestments, scores from the choir and manuscripts detailing church events.

Why You Should Visit:
Conveniently located and boasting a majestic presence, this grandiose church offers a captivating experience both inside and out, featuring by far the most successful blend of different architectural styles.

Tips:
When visiting, be sure to take advantage of the small tours available to explore the church's hidden treasures. Additionally, don't miss the opportunity to visit the balcony loggia, which offers a unique perspective and allows you to admire more of the church's stunning architecture. As evening sets in, find a serene spot by the fountain and marvel at the illuminated beauty of the building.

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.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major) on Map

Sight Name: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major)
Sight Location: Rome, Italy (See walking tours in Rome)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Rome, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Creating your own self-guided walk in Rome is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
EUR Sightseeing Walking Tour

EUR Sightseeing Walking Tour

The Esposizione Universale di Roma (EUR), located in the southern suburb of Rome, was originally constructed for an international exhibition that was planned by Mussolini as a grand celebration of Fascist Italy. However, due to the outbreak of World War II, the exhibition never took place. The architecture of EUR was designed to glorify Fascism and showcases a distinct style that sets it apart...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Vatican Walking Tour

Vatican Walking Tour

Consisting of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, the Vatican is the world’s smallest sovereign state, as well as a symbol (and headquarters) of the Roman Catholic faith. Although only 44 hectares in surface, one is amazed by the vastness of this place and the sheer size of everything. When gazing around in all directions, you realize how much can be achieved by people working in faith for...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Food Tasting Walking Tour

Food Tasting Walking Tour

Whether it’s a long lunch or a stop-off for an ice cream on an evening stroll, eating in Rome is a very social activity. Culinary traditions run deep here, and it may well be one of Italy’s most pleasurable cities in which to eat. Deli shops, prosciutterias, pizzerias, fornos (bakeries) and caffès are also very popular and offer a great alternative to a restaurant meal.

On this...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Spanish Steps to Trevi Fountain

Spanish Steps to Trevi Fountain

An established tourist mecca, today's Rome is hardly imaginable without two of its much loved attractions – the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Magnets for tourists as they are, these two sights are connected to a number of other, not less worthy of attention locations, such as the Fountain of the Longboat or Piazza Colonna and its centerpiece, the Column of Marcus Aurelius, to...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Rome Shopping Streets Walking Tour

Rome Shopping Streets Walking Tour

Loved by tourists for its busy fashionable streets and significant baroque icons, the so-called ‘Tridente’ is one of the Eternal City's most lusted-after areas, formed by Via dei Condotti, Via Borgognona, Via Frattina and the adjacent Via del Corso. It is perhaps the most high-end destination for Roman shopping, with a concentration of renowned jewelers and important Italian/international...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Palatine Hill Walking Tour

Palatine Hill Walking Tour

Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome and the most ancient part of the capital. Based on Roman mythology and archaeological evidence, this hill is considered the birthplace of the city – a place where legendary Romulus founded it in 753 BC. Furthermore, the very word “palace” – indicating the emperor’s residence (“Palatium”), much as that of other dignitaries and prominent...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


10 Best Food Markets in Rome Italy

10 Best Food Markets in Rome Italy

Of all the things Italy is most famous for (cars, music, fashion, movies, etc.), food is, undoubtedly, top of the list. Rome may well not be the whole Italy, but no Italy is whole without Rome... And the Romans, much as all their fellow-Italians, like it "fresco", hence the abundance of...
17 Best Gelaterias in Rome Italy

17 Best Gelaterias in Rome Italy

For ice cream lovers and dabblers this guide is a treasure chest of Rome’s best gelato shops. There are gelaterias everywhere. Many visitors to Rome only have a few days to explore the city. You owe it to yourself to make the most of your time and find the gelato locals eat. Often the authentic...
Souvenirs Shopping: 15 Authentic Italian Things To Buy in Rome

Souvenirs Shopping: 15 Authentic Italian Things To Buy in Rome

Rome is the Eternal City and, as such, the list of gift options available here is countless. Whether it's something edible, drinkable, wearable or pleasing to the eye that you want - you will find it all here in abundance. However, if time or budget is the factor, perhaps you might want to...