Basilica di San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura

Monti, Esquilino & San Lorenzo

One of Rome’s four patriarchal basilicas, San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura (St Lawrence Outside the Walls) has an unusually restrained interior. It was the only major Roman church to suffer bomb damage in WWII, and is a hotchpotch of rebuilds and restorations as a result. Despite this, it is worth visiting for its magnificent Cosmati floor and front portico, which features a fresco of St Lawrence, one of Rome's martyrs, being roasted alive on a spit.

St Lawrence was martyred in AD 258, and Constantine had the original basilica constructed in the 4th century over his burial place, which was rebuilt 200 years later. Subsequently, a nearby 5th-century church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was incorporated into the building, resulting in the church you see today. The nave, portico and much of the decoration date from the 13th century.

The remains of St Lawrence and St Stephen are in the church crypt beneath the high altar. A pretty barrel-vaulted cloister contains inscriptions and sarcophagi, and leads to the Catacombe di Santa Ciriaca, where St Lawrence was initially buried.