Visit some of the most important monuments in the history of Early Christian Rome. Your local guide will take you on an itinerary that begins on the Esquiline Hill with the treasures of Santa Maria Maggiore, continues on to the Holy Staircase and the Lateran Palace, and to the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, the Cathedral of Rome (visit inside).
You’ll travel along the ancient Appian Way by bus, passing the Chapel of "Domine Quo Vadis?" before arriving at the Catacombs.
Depending on seasonal conditions, your visit will include either the Catacombs of San Callisto, Santa Domitilla, or San Sebastiano.
Your tour will end with a spectacular view of the Baths of Emperor Caracalla.
No penalty for cancellations up to one business day prior to departure. No refund for further cancellations and no shows.
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Your itinerary includes the following sites:
Santa Maria Maggiore on the Esquiline Hill
Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the four Patriarchal Basilicas and the largest Roman Catholic Marian church in Rome. It has two magnificent chapels (the Sistine and the Pauline), and the truly breathtaking mosaics offer some of the oldest representations of the Virgin Mary in late Christian antiquity. It is the only Roman basilica which, in spite of several additions, has retained its original shape. It was built in 352 BC, after, as the legend goes, the Virgin Mary appeared to Pope Liberio and marked the site of the church he was to build with a snowfall on the Esquiline Hill – in August.
The building shows different architectural styles, reflecting the many restorations carried out through its secular history. The bell tower is the highest in Rome (about 75m). The interior hosts works by many Italian masters, such as Andrea Lilio, Cesare Nebbia, and Domenico Fontana. Fontana was the architect for Pope Sixtus V, one of the most important pontiffs whose legacy includes the road network of the city.
The Lateran Palace and the Holy Stairs
The Lateran Palace is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire, adjacent to the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, on Piazza San Giovanni in the southeast of Rome. It now houses the Museo Storico Vaticano, the offices of the Vicariate of Rome, as well as the residential apartments of the Cardinal Vicar, the Pope's delegate for the daily administration of the Diocese of Rome. From the 4th century until about the 14th century, the Palace of the Lateran was the principal residence of the popes.
Christian tradition tells that the 28 white marble stairs of the Scala Sancta are the steps that led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, which Jesus Christ stood on during his Passion on his way to trial. According to legend, the stairs were brought to Rome by Saint Helena in the 4th century. The Scala Santa has attracted Christian pilgrims who wished to honor the Passion of Jesus for centuries. The stairs are located in a building which belongs to the old Lateran Palace.
San Giovanni in Laterano
San Giovanni in Laterano is the Cathedral of the dioceses of Rome and the official ecclesiastic see of the Pope. Its neoclassical facade is splendid, with five gateways characterized by fifteen great statues of Christ surrounded by saints. The finely decorated interiors are breathtaking – particularly the ceiling by the school of Michelangelo and the mosaic floor.
Look out for the inscription Christo Salvatori on the façade. It indicates the church's dedication to Christ the Savior – like all patriarchal churches. Interestingly, the fact that it is the cathedral of the bishop of Rome ranks it above all other churches in the Catholic Church – including above Saint Peter's Basilica! This is why San Giovanni in Laterano also holds the title of Archbasilica.
The Catacombs are tombs but were also considered private and protected areas by the Romans and as shelters from persecution. The catacombs form an intricate network of narrow corridors hewn into stone. After the corpses had been placed into the funeral niches, with tokens and names of their relatives placed beside them, the niches were sealed with stone slabs. These galleries were built over several levels and every level is from 100km to 150km long.
Price per person: € 52.00
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