There has been a church on this site since the 4th century, as cities have a cathedral, this is known as Rome's Cathedral and is the seat of the Bishop of Rome who is the Pope.
There are relics in the papal altar which date back to the 14th century. There is also a lovely cloister which is open to the public. There is an entrance fee payable for the cloister.
A beautiful church to visit.
By far the most exquisite work of art in the entire church, the colorful mosaics in the apse are the perfect ornament to the altar. The apse and its transepts deserve most of the attention and all of the applause in this less than enthusiastically reconstructed church, whose importance to Papal history is second only to St Peter's. Like Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo fuori le Mura, St John Lateran enjoys the status of extraterritoriality, making it subject to the Pope rather than the civic powers in Rome.
Not until you near the altar does the true artistry of St John Lateran reveal itself to the eye. Away from the cold introduction throughout the nave, beyond the religious statues in their arched niches, the altar is a fair work that (like many other churches) claims to contain apostolic relics and remains.
Straight down Via Merulana from Santa Maria Maggiore is the heavily reconstructed church of St John Lateran, the former seat of the Papal See. Built and rebuilt many times, the present structure has a somewhat cold and spiritless interior stretching beyond an imposing but heavy facade. Until they were banished to Avignon in southern France, the Popes lived here until the first decade of the 14th century. When they returned 70 years later, they moved into new palaces at the Vatican. St John Lateran essentially fell in importance to a storage facility.
Typical landmarks of Rome are the original Egyptian obelisks. There are 13 of them and they have been 'stolen' from Egypt during the Roman age.
We can find them in Piazza Navona, Trinità dei Monti, piazza del Popolo, piazza Montecitorio, on the Quirinale hill, piazza S.Pietro in Vatican , piazza della Rotonda (Pantheon), on Pincio hill, piazza S.Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore, piazza della Minerva, in Piazza dei Cinquecento and villa Celimontana (the park on Celio hill).
The tallest one is the obelisk "lateranense" (in the picture), 45.7 meters.
The nave is lined with statues of the Apostles. They are white and centered in green marble. They are magnificent structures. They are in the late baroque style by some of Bernini's followers. Even though this cathedral is not in the historical center you must take a visit. I could spend an hour in this place easily. It is stunning! It is hard to believe the effort that must have gone into the creation of this cathedral and all the details of it. What craftsmenship.
I think the best starting point of your excursion is the church S.Giovanni in Laterano. This most ancient Christian church kept the title of Roman Cathedral.
I loved the interior of this cathedral! The cathedral of Rome and the ancient center of papal power during the entire Middle Ages. It was founded by Pope Melchiades in 311-314 which makes it the oldest Christian basilica in the world. The apostles line the nave, they are huge white statues set between green columns. The fine Cosmatesque floor is so interesting and stunning and so is the ceiling of gold decorations. The confessio contains the funeral monument to Pope Martin V, the tombstone is a masterpiece of the Renaissance by the Florentine artist Simone Ghini. There is a large pipe organ on one of the sides near the apse.
Beautiful building and artwork. I was very impressed with the older sections of the church, especially the baptistery. Across the street are the Sacred Steps. Both are free to visitors.
When we left the church we saw a group of boys playing football in front of the cathedral using the huge lawns as a pitch.
This is the Cathedral of Rome.
Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano
Metro: San Giovanni (line A).
This wonderful pipe organ dates back to the XVI century (1598). I'm sure its sound is fantastic, even if I never had the chance to listen to it :-(
The ceiling of St John Lateran is also a monochrome catastrophe that repeats the same spiritless giltwork and other images around the coat of arms of a later pope in the central bay.