Palazzo, Church sights in Rome
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Flanking Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, itself dominated by Rome’s oldest and tallest obelisk, is Domenico Fontana’s 16th-century Palazzo Laterano. Part of the original 4th-century basilica complex, it was the official papal residence until the popes moved to the Vatican in 1377, and today houses offices of the diocese of Rome.
Just around the corner is the fascinating octagonal battistero (baptistry). Built by Constantine in the 4th century, it served as the prototype for later Christian churches and bell towers. The chief interest, apart from the architecture, are the decorative mosaics, some of which date back to the 5th century.