Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

Monuments and LandmarksRome Churches
With some of the best preserved Byzantine interiors in Rome, the high altar and crypt are notable highlights of this church, acknowledged as one of the most beautiful in the city.

Know Before You Go

The great nave of Santa Maria Maggiore is awe-inspiring with small arched windows, columns, artwork and the intricately detailed ceiling. The mosaic panels in the church are some of the best preserved you will see, with vibrant colours and ancient depictions, they date back to the 5th century. Also the high altar and the crypt are well worth visiting.
Check the church hours as sometimes it can be closed. There may be security screening to enter like most of the churches and cathedrals in Rome.
Try and time your visit when the choir is practising for a truly memorable experience.
Older children may enjoy the art, architecture and history.

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore was founded in the 4th century, it is one of the great five ancient Roman Basilicas and it has some of the best preserved Byzantine interiors in Rome. The church was probably built in the early 400's, when many churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary were constructed.The name has changed many times over the years but it was finally named Santa Maria Maggiore, otherwise known as St. Mary Major due to the fact it is the largest of 26 churches in Rome which have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary.


The church is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the city, it still retains the original ancient blueprint but the majority of the exterior dates back to the 18th century. There is however a visible part of the original early Christian Basilica which can be seen from Via dell'Esquilino. The interior is typical of 5th century Rome with a wide nave, side aisles and the rounded apse.

Key Highlights

The church is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the city, it still retains the original ancient blueprint but the majority of the exterior dates back to the 18th century. There is however a visible part of the original early Christian Basilica which can be seen from Via dell'Esquilino. The interior is typical of 5th century Rome with a wide nave, side aisles and the rounded apse.

Map : Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

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