Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva

Santa Maria sopra Minerva

Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva is the only extant example of the original Gothic church building in Rome that dates back to the XIII-XV centuries. This is one of the major Roman churches of the Roman Catholic Order of the Dominicans. The arched vaulting of the church painted blue with gilded starts is the result of the restoration works of the XIX century, while the works in the side chapels are mostly all originals! Romans say "Everyone keeps art pieces at the museum and we have them in churches". Left from the altar is later work of Michelangelo Buonarroti – Christ the Redeemer or Christ Carrying the Cross. The sculpture was updated by Michelangelo’s apprentices by the order of holy fathers (they added the loincloth and sandals to the figure of Jesus). In the Cappela Carafa (located in the corner to the right) there is the tomb of Pope Paul IV who made the history for opposing the Protestants. He was the one who ordered the nudes of The Last Judgment (over 400 figures) in the Sistine Chapel be painted more modestly. However Cappela Carafa became famous because of Pope’s relative who ordered Filippino Lippi to paint frescoes picturing life and works of Thomas Aquinas. Madone and Child in the second chapel in the northern transept is attributed to Fra Angelico, the Dominican friar and painter, who is also buried in the church. Fra Angelico’s tomb is located next to an absolutely pagan-looking sarcophagus made of antique marble stone with the lion and Heracles.

The body of St Catherine of Siena, except for her head (which is in Siena), lies under the high altar, and the tombs of two Medici popes, Leo X and Clement VII, are in the apse. St Catherine of Siena was an active politian and peacemaker, she encouraged return of the Popes to Rome from Avignon Papacy convincing Pope Gregory XI to bring the Holy See back to Rome. The side chapels host the frescoes by Pietro Perugino (Resurrection in the third chapel on the left), sculptures by Mino da Fiesole (monument to Francesco Tornabuoni on the right from the entrance) and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (memorial to Maria Raggi and Cardinal Vigevano). It was the place where Galileo Galilei and Alessandro Cagliostro abjured their scientific theses. If Galileo ever spoke out: "and yet it moves", he said it exactly in this place.

Address: Piazza della Minerva, 42
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30 am – 7 pm, Sat 7.30 am - 12.30 pm, 3.30 pm – 7 pm, Sun 8 am - 12.30 pm, 3.30 pm – 7 pm
Coordinates: 41.897983, 12.478014