Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere

sights / Religious

Lonely Planet review

Trastevere's glittering heart is the beautiful Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere , which features what is said to be the oldest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome. Begun in AD 337, a major overhaul in 1138 saw the addition of the Romanesque bell tower and glittering facade. The portico came later, added by Carlo Fontana in 1702.

Inside, the 12th-century mosaics star. In the apse, look out for Christ and his mother flanked by various saints and, on the far left, Pope Innocent II holding a model of the church. Beneath this are six mosaics by Pietro Cavallini illustrating the life of the Virgin (c 1291). The building itself incorporates 21 ancient Roman columns, some from the Terme di Caracalla, and its wooden ceiling dates from the 17th century.