Basilica of Saint Clement

Basilica San Clemente

The Basilica of Saint Clement is a unique archeological three-tiered complex: the present basilica built in the XII century at the top level, a IV-century early Christian basilica beneath it, and two I-century houses at the bottom level. There also was the 4th layer – ruins of buildings destroyed in the Great Fire of 64 AD. The modern basilica is decorated with a XII-century mosaic depicting early Christian symbols, with frescoes of the XV and the XVIII centuries, as well as with unique IX-century frescoes. The rood screen and choir walls of the modern basilica retain monograms of Pope John II. They were either transferred from the bottom-level to the upper basilica or carefully restored in the XII-century basilica. Since the IX century the basilica has been hosting the relics of Pope Clement, which Saints Cyril and Methodius obtained in Crimea and took to Rome. Cyril Equal-to-the-Apostles was allegedly buried at the right-hand side of the altar where a well-preserved IX-century fresco the Harrowing of Hell was discovered. Under the altar there is a small chapel with a shrine containing the relics of St Clement of Rome and St Ignatius of Antioch.

The golden-bronze apse mosaics with a crucifix in the centre present a most glorious view. These were most probably transferred from the lower basilica or were based on a similar IV-V-century mosaic. The ten frescoes in the middle nave were created in the early XVIII century. Near the entrance in the left aisle there is the chapel of St Catherine of Alexandria, featuring XV-century frescoes by Masolino de Panicale. There are other four chapels in the upper basilica. Below, at the lower level, there are ancient underground burials, or catacombs, dating back to the VII-VIII centuries. The VI-century font, which has been recently discovered in the catacombs, is 2 meters in diameter and is adorned with marble revetments. There is an atrium with an XVIII-century fountain in the middle of the basilica. For some extra fee you can set off on an exciting trip into the history of Rome and explore the excavation sites of the two lower levels.

Address: Via Labicana, 95
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9 am – 12.30 pm, 3.30 pm - 6.30 pm, Sat-Sun 12 pm - 6 pm, Oct-Mar until 6 pm
How to reach: Colosseo
Coordinates: 41.889367, 12.497398