Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere

Santa Maria in Trastevere

Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest Roman churches dedicated to the Mother of God. There is a legend that foreruns the history of foundation of this church. They say that the year when Christ was born a spring of olive oil started to gush in the Trastevere. The Jewish Community of Trastevere considered it to be a sign of the Messiah and started secret services in praise of Christ. Today the inscription in Latin "Fons olei" ("the oil spring") can be seen on the church floor in front of the main altar. It reminds of the legend. The church got its modern appearance in the XII century, and the bell-tower was erected in 1138. Despite some later changes such as gilded coffered ceiling by Domenichino dedicated to the Assumption day (1617) and the gallery by Carlo Fontana (1702), the Basilica has maintained its medieval appearance. The Baroque central nave has 22 columns of different sizes, types and textures, taken from the ancient Roman buildings, in particular, from the Baths of Caracalla.

There is the statue of St Anthony from Padua in the left nave. It is believed that if you write down a wish and put the note to the pedestal of this statue, your wish will come true. The mosaic by Pietro Cavallini (XII century) is located in the central apse and is of great value. Glaring Christ and the Virgin Mary are imaged on the throne ready for coronation of the Immaculate Virgin. The figure on the left shows the Pope holding the model of the church. The apse border is decorated with images of the lamb of God, which symbolizes Jesus Christ, and 12 sheep, which symbolize the 12 Apostles. The floor is covered with the 11th-century Cosmatesque Florentine mosaics. The facade of the second floor is decorated with a mosaic picturing Virgin Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus, surrounded by ten girls holding oil lamps. The second floor is added with the balcony and balusters, that hold four Baroque statues by Carlo Fontana. Take special notice of the magnificent Chapel of Altemps (1580s). Fontana reconstructed both the church facade and the fountain in front of the church.

Address: Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 7.30 am – 9 pm
How to reach: tram 8, bus 780
Coordinates: 41.889466, 12.469666