Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo

Top choice basilica in Tridente, Trevi & the Quirinale

Image by DEA PICTURE LIBRARY Getty Images

A magnificent repository of art, this is one of Rome’s earliest and richest Renaissance churches. Of the numerous works of art on display, it is the two Caravaggio masterpieces that draw the most onlookers – the Conversion of St Paul (1601) and the Crucifixion of St Peter (1601), in a chapel to the left of the main altar – but it contains other fine works, including several by Pinturicchio and Bernini.

The first chapel was built here in 1099 to exorcise the ghost of Nero, who was secretly buried on this spot and whose ghost was thought to haunt the area. It had since been overhauled, but the church's most important makeover came when Bramante renovated the presbytery and choir in the early 16th century and Pinturicchio added a series of frescoes. Bernini further reworked the church in the 17th century.

Look out for Raphael’s Cappella Chigi, which was completed by Bernini some 100 years later.


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