Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore : Michelin's recommendations
It was founded by Sixtus III, in the 5C, and is one of Rome's four "major" basilicas. Since the Lateran Agreement of 1929, the basilica has the privilege of extraterritorial status.It is enclosed between two identical palaces and was built by Ferdinando Fuga. This lover of classical shapes was, nevertheless, influenced by Borromini, hence the resulting broken lines and use of empty spaces. Under the portico, you can see the King of Spain, Philip IV, one of the basilica's benefactors. The loggia, where the pope gave his urbi et orbi benediction, is adorned with fine mosaics, by Filippo Rusuti. The interior has often been transformed. It is almost perfectly-proportioned, divided by two rows of Ionic columns, and shines with colour. It is an example of Early Christian architecture that you should come and see on a Sunday ! However, you should choose a quieter day to see details on the wonderful central nave, triumphal arch and apse mosaics. Those on the nave are one of Rome's oldest Christian mosaics (5C) and show lively scenes from the Old Testament. The apse mosaic is also dazzling. You must also see the canopy, look up to admire the gilded vault, with, it is said, the first gold from Peru used in Rome, the Sixtus V Chapel, which turned the city into a huge work site, and the fastuous Pauline Chapel, where its sponsor, Paul V Borghese, is buried, amongst a jasper, lapis lazuli, agate and amethyst decoration.
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