There is a second Sistine chapel in Rome. But if the one of the Vatican owes its name to Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (pontiff from 1471 to 1484) this one on the right side of the nave in Santa Maria Maggiore was commissioned by Pope Sixtus V Peretti (1585 - 1590). During the five years of his pontificate Sixtus V displayed a remarkable energy. He exterminated the brigandage in and around Rome, rearranged the papal finances and spent immense sums in erection of religious and public works.
He called his trusted architect Domenico Fontana to construct a Blessed Sacrament Chapel which would house the Crypt of the Nativity. This is an ancient Nativity Oratory, arranged as a reproduction of the cave in Bethlehem. The Christmas crib here is one of the finest in the world, with statuettes made by Arnolfo de Cambio c. 1289. The crypt is not always open to the public.
Many artists worked on the Sistine Chapel. The altar is beautiful with four gold leafed bronze angels. The chapel contains the tombs of Sixtus V with his statue and the shrine of his early patron Pius V.
SINCE END 2010 THE CHAPEL IS CLOSED FOR RESTORATION WORKS. Till when? Non lo so!
Open: 7 - 19 h (winter 18 h); Sundays 9.30 - 12 h. Free.
The full name of this great church is "Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore", and it officially belongs to the Vatican state and even patrolled by Vatican policemen!
It was first built in the 5th century, under Pope Sixtus III, on the top of Esquilino Hill. It underwent major renovations and re-decoration in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and the present façade dates from the 1740s.
I found the apse view of the basilica from Piazza del Esquilino more impressive than the front.
Entering the church, its vast size struck me, with a simple, classical basilica architecture but a beautiful ceiling decorated with abundant gold. Above the altar and along the nave there are beautiful ancient mosaics dating from the 5th century.
Several popes were buried here, and also the great Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Stairs leading down from the altar area bring you to a white marble statue of Pope Pius IX kneeling in prayer, his gaze fixed on the mosaic above tha altar: I found this statue inspiring.
Another beautiful work of art is the bronze statue of Philip IV, King of Spain, work of Bernini (1692), near the entrance.
There are sights which definatelly deserving to have more options for the pics, I'd say like ten. Yes, the answer could be, make more tips it's allowed and I agree but what to write about if am not good in writings, lol.
Definatelly, I am not a scriboman, prefer to express my adventure with the photo, more then writing about the spot. It was said: "picture could tell more then 1000 words could say", and I second it strongly.
They say Santa Maria Maggiore is the fourth largest church in Rome and the only basilica which still retains its original shape. The basilica, which is also called Liberiana was built in the first half of the 5th century, in time of Pope Sixtus III. Its Romanesque bell tower is the tallest in Rome.
Santa Maria Maggiore is really very large church, its facade features portico with five openings. The interiors has three naves and double row of columns. The front part, where the altar is, is dominated by the great baldacchino, also work by Fuga. The ceiling is gilded by the gold and is work of Sangallo. There are some very important relics where high altar is, the crib of Presepio and the sarcophagus contains the bones of St. Matthew the Evangelist.
Santa Maria Maggiore is a beautiful basilica dedicated to Virgin Mary which supposed to have chosen the spot through a weird miracle of falling snow upon the spot!
It was built in 440AD and although I already knew that it’s great to visit I was shocked of the amazing interior! We closed the guide books and checked the beautiful mosaics, the greek columns, the floor, the coffered gilded ceiling (designed by Giuliano da Sangallo in 16th century with gold from Spain, probably the first gold that brought from America)
We spent a lot of time walking around the numerous corners checking the details, and at the end we visited the reliquary crypt (pic 4) that you can see a statue of Pope Pius IX(pic 5).
It’s open daily 7.00-19.00
This church, the largest of the 26 churches in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was once the Palace of the Popes. The Pope still uses it; on 15 August he presides over the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Before you enter the church, stop for a while to admire the façade, the 14th-century mosaic of Christ the Ruler and Teacher and the doors.
Inside, take your time to observe probably the oldest Christian mosaics in a Roman church, the gilded ceiling designed by Giuliano da Sangallo, marble columns from the original 5th-century basilica, the altar, frescoes, monuments, sacristy, baptistery, chapels... Here, you can find the tombs of Pope Sixtus and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
With its 75 metres, the bell-tower of the church is the highest in Rome. It was rebuilt in the 14th century, and the pyramidal spire was added in the 16th century.
The Marian column in front of the church, erected around 1614, is the model of numerous Marian columns around the world.
The obelisk on the other side of the church was brought from the Mausoleum of Augustus and erected in 1597 as a beacon for pilgrims.
Santa Maria Maggiore is the fourth largest church in Rome and the largest dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and apart from some decorations, is the only basilica which still retains its original shape and character. The Romanesque campinile is the tallest in Rome.
Of all the great Roman Basilicas,Santa Maria has the most successful blend of different architectural styles.Its colonated tripple nave is part of original 5th century building.The Cosmatesque marble floor and delightful Romanesque bell tower,with the blue ceramic roundels are medieval.The Renaisance saw a new coffered ceiling,and the Baroque gave the church twin domes and its imposing fron and rear facades.The mosaics are Santa Maria's most famous feature.From the 5th century cme the biblical scenes in the nave and the spectacular mosaics on the triumphal arch.Medieval highlights include a 13th century enthroned Christ in he loggia.Coronation of the Virgin Mosaic is the central image of a series of wonderful apse mosaics of the Virgin by Jacopo Torriti (1295).The giled ceiling ,possible by Giuliano da sangallo.was a gift of Alexander VI Borgia at the end of the 15th century.The gold is said to be the first brought from America by Columbus. The columns of red porphyry and bronze were the woirk of Ferdinando Fuga. in front of the church there is an ancient marble column of the Virgin and Child,a bronze was added in 1615 and column itself came from the basilica of Constantine in the Forum. On the back side of the church there is Egiptian Obelisk that was erected by Pope Sixtus V in 1587 as a landmark for polgrims.
There are priests available if you wish to confess.I just fell in love with this church ,very magnificant and beautifull, peacefull at the same time as most of pilgrimage sites.Maybe that's way it has it's own legend of snow. In 356 Pope liberius had a dream in which the virgin told him to build a church on the spot where he found snow.When it fell on Esquiline,on the morning of august 5 in the middle of the baking Roman summer,he naturally obeyed.The miracle of the snow is commemorated each year by a service during which thousands of white petals float down from the ceiling of Santa Maria.It used to be roses ,but now it's dahilias.
This church looks spectacular from whicjever side you approach it. The pictures is takien from The Piazza dell'Esquilino with the apse area of Santa Maria Maggiore showing.
The name of the church reflects two ideas of greatness ("major"), that of a major (or papal) basilica and that of the largest (major) church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary
It is well worth a visit inside this church epecially for the the Borghese Chapel.
“I went out to-day, and, going along the Via Felice and the Via delle Quattro Fontane, came unawares to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. I entered it, without in the least knowing what church it was, and found myself in a broad and noble nave, both very simple and very grand. There was a long row of Ionic columns of marble, twenty or thereabouts on each side, supporting a flat roof. There were vaulted side-aisles, and, at the farther end, a bronze canopy over the high altar; and all along the length of the side-aisles were shrines with pictures, sculpture, and burning lamps; the whole church, too, was lined with marble: the roof was gilded; and yet the general effect of severe and noble simplicity triumphed over all the ornament.”
— from the 1858 “French and Italian Note-Books” of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
Santa Maria Maggiore, St. Mary Major, is one of the four Patriarchal Basilicas in Rome. Although the church has been improved over the centuries, its basic structure has remained unchanged. For example, the church building dates from AD 431; but its magnificent Baroque façade (see photo #1), the work of Ferdinand Fuga, was completed in 1741.
The church’s origins were revealed in a dream. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Pope Liberius in a dream in AD 358; the Roman Patrician Giovanni had the same dream. In these nocturnal revelations Mary instructed that the Pope should build and Giovanni should pay for the new basilica; its location was also revealed. Extraordinary weather for the 5th of August, AD 358, snow covered Rome’s Esquiline Hill. In this snow, the Pope traced the outlined of the basilica. Each 5th of August at a special mass celebrating the dream of Pope Liberius white rose petals fall from the ceiling to carpet the church’s floor.
The church’s name combines two ideas of greatness (major), that of a papal (major) basilica and that of the largest (major) church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
The Marian Column (see photo #3) in Piazza de Santa Maria Maggiore was erected in 1614; Carlo Maderno designed the column, which celebrates the icon of the Virgin Mary found in the Pauline chapel of the Basilica. The icon is known as Salus Populi Romani, or Health of the Roman People, because a miracle attributed to it helped keep Plague from the city. Marian columns were put up in Catholic countries in the 17th century giving thanks for secession of the Plague. Tradition teaches us that the icon was painted from life by St. Luke the Evangelist. And published material at the Basilica, offers radiocarbon dating evidence that fixes the age of the icon at 2,000 years, thus reinforcing its sacred tradition. The column itself came from Constantine’s Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine in the Roman Forum.
The ceiling (see photo #4) is coffered and was designed by Giuliano Sangallo but the work was completed by his brother, Antonio. The ceiling’s gilding was an offering from the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, to the Spanish Borgia pope, Alexander VI. This was some of the first gold brought from the New World.
The Crypt of the Nativity, also known as the Bethlehem Crypt, is underneath the sanctuary of Santa Maria Maggiore. This is the final resting place for the genius of the Baroque Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Each year at Christmas time relics of the Nativity crib are displayed at Santa Maria Maggiore.
At the rear of the Basilica is a square with a 49-foot-tall obelisk (see photo #2) from the Mausoleum of Augustus.
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