Minor Basilicas of Rome

Duration: 3 hours


Without denying the fact that Rome’s sacred buildings excel in quantity rather than quality, with of course several magnificent exceptions, there is no doubt that a collective look at a few of these exquisite buildings would comprise one of the finest artistic, architectural and historical experiences in the world.


On this itinerary – “Minor Basilicas of Rome” – we will visit the historically less renowned though artistically and architecturally fascinating minor Roman basilicas.  Among these are included:


Basilica of S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura (St. Lawrence Outside the Walls)
Basilica of S. Agnese fuori le Mura (St. Anges Outside-the-Walls)
Basilica of S. Sebastiano fuori le Mura (St. Sebastian Outside the Walls)
Basilica of S. Anastasia al Palatino
Basilica of St. Anastasia
Basilica of S. Bartolomeo Apostolo all’Isola
Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Island
Basilica of Ss. Bonifacio ed Alessio all’Aventino
Basilica of S. Croce in Gerusalemme
Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem
Basilica of S. Maria ad martyres in Campo (“Pantheon”)
Basilica of S. Maria del Popolo
Basilica of S. Maria in Ara Coeli al Campidoglio
Basilica of S. Marco a piazza Venezia (a favorite)
Basilica of S. Sabina all’Aventino
Basilica of S. Pietro in Vincoli al Colle Oppio


We will look at prototypical Roman buildings from the point of view of their origin and structure. These basilicas of Rome, usually from the time period of the first six centuries, will be seen in the context of the following classes:


1. Pagan monuments, especially temples, converted into churches.
2. Memorials of historical events.
3. Oratories and churches built over the houses of martyrs and confessors.


From these classifications the major artworks, interior ornamentation and architectural structures of ach basilica will be explored in the context of the building’s historical antecedents, from the present ecclesiastical context back through the centuries into the roman-civil and the greek-regal.


Special attention will be given to the “reading” of a basilica, its architectural morphemes in a “sacred” context, the tombs and funerary monuments, relics, mosaics and frescoes, the altars, confessios and sculptures. Functional churches still today, there may even be the opportunity to observe and experience on sight the beauty of the ceremonial liturgies with their respective chant, music and ritualistic accoutrements – from a non-religious pint of view still an attraction for the average Roman visitor.


In brief: We visit a choice of at least three minor Roman basilicas.


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