Basilica di San Clemente
Lonely Planet review for Basilica di San Clemente
This fascinating basilica provides a vivid glimpse into Rome's multilayered past: a 12th-century basilica built over a 4th-century church, which stands over a 2nd-century pagan temple and 1st-century Roman house. Beneath everything are foundations dating from the Roman Republic.
The medieval church features a marvellous 12th-century apse mosaic depicting the Trionfo della Croce (Triumph of the Cross) and some wonderful Renaissance frescoes in the Chapel of St Catherine, to the left of the entrance. Steps lead down to the 4th-century basilica inferiore, mostly destroyed by Norman invaders in 1084, but with some faded 11th-century frescoes illustrating the life of San Clement. Follow the steps down another level and you'll come to a 1st-century Roman house and a dark, 2nd-century temple to Mithras, with an altar showing the god slaying a bull. Beneath it all, you can hear the eerie sound of a subterranean river, running through a Roman Republic–era drain.