Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Basilica of Saint Mary above Minerva), Rome

Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Basilica of Saint Mary above Minerva), Rome

Tucked away just behind the Pantheon in Rome, Santa Maria sopra Minerva is a hidden gem that holds not only religious significance but also a wealth of art. As the former Roman headquarters of the Dominican order, this church boasts two exceptional masterpieces that make it truly worth a visit: Michelangelo's statue, "Cristo della Minerva", and the remarkable cycle of frescoes by Filippino Lippi in the Carafa Chapel.

Also known as "Christ the Redeemer" or "Christ Carrying the Cross," Michelangelo's marble sculpture is located to the left of the main altar and was completed in 1521. The commission for this work was received in June 1514, and Michelangelo began working on the first version around 1515. However, upon discovering a black vein in the white marble, he abandoned the sculpture in an unfinished state.

A new version was quickly substituted in 1519-1520, with Michelangelo entrusting the final touches to an apprentice who unfortunately damaged the work. Nevertheless, the second version impressed contemporaries and garnered unusual praise, such as the remark that "the [statue's] knees alone were worthy of more than the whole of Rome."

Initially, Michelangelo depicted Christ unclothed in a standing pose, intentionally exposing his sexual organs to signify his uncorrupted sexuality, free from lust and under complete control of his will. This portrayal showcased his triumph over sin and death in his resurrected body. However, in 1546, a floating bronze loincloth was added to shield the genitals from view.

Christ's leg is bent, and his head is turned back, following the principle of 'contrapposto'. Compared to the first version, this more dynamic pose creates varied impressions when viewed from different angles, activating the space around the sculpture and suggesting an unfolding story.

While many medieval churches in Rome underwent Baroque transformations, concealing their Gothic features, the Church of Saint Mary above Minerva has largely retained its original appearance. It features several magnificent stained-glass roundels, including one depicting Mary surrounded by saints, which is considered the finest stained glass in all of Rome. The ceiling is painted deep blue with golden stars, adding to the church's enchanting ambiance.

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Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Basilica of Saint Mary above Minerva) on Map

Sight Name: Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Basilica of Saint Mary above Minerva)
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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Roman Forum and Imperial Forums Walking Tour

Roman Forum and Imperial Forums Walking Tour

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Food Tasting Walking Tour

Food Tasting Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour

"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour

A movie beloved by generations of people, "Roman Holiday" (1953) was filmed entirely in Rome and starred two of Hollywood's greatest icons: Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The romantic comedy would go on to earn three Oscars, including the best actress trophy for Hepburn, who is entirely sympathetic in a role that could have been off-putting. The main storyline centers on a day of...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.0 Km or 5.6 Miles
Rome Introduction Walking Tour I

Rome Introduction Walking Tour I

Legend has it that Rome was founded in 753 BC by twin brothers Romulus and Remus who were raised by a she-wolf. However, the pair argued about who had the support of the gods, and Romulus ended up killing Remus in a fight on what became Palatine Hill. Thus, Romulus named the city after himself and declared himself as king.

In a slightly less glorious account, Rome actually began as an Iron Age...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
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
Hidden Art Treasures in Rome

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Rome is one of the world's top living museums, replete with some of the most iconic pieces of art on the face of the planet. Famous artists, such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Bernini, to mention but a few, had lived and worked here and left indelible marks in the city.

Needless to say that the abundance of masterpieces makes Rome crowded with tourists anxious to see them, causing...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles

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