Conversion of St Paul, 1601, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), oil on canvas, 230x175 cm. Santa Maria del Popolo, Cerasi Chapel, Rome.

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Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo

Tridente, Trevi & the Quirinale

This is one of Rome’s richest Renaissance churches, with a particularly impressive collection of art, including two Caravaggios: the Conversion of St Paul (1600–1601) and the Crucifixion of St Peter (1601). These are in the 16th-century Cerasi Chapel to the left of the main altar. Other fine works include Caracci's Assumption of the Virgin (c 1660) in the same chapel and multiple frescoes by Pinturicchio (look for his 1484–90 Adoration of the Christ Child in the Della Rovere Chapel).

The church has a central nave and four chapels on each of its sides. 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 was later overhauled, but the church's most important makeover came when Bramante renovated the presbytery and choir and Pinturicchio added his series of frescoes at the end of the 5th century. Bernini further reworked the church in the 17th century.

Look out for the Cappella Chigi, designed by Raphael for wealthy banker Agostino Chigi in 1514 but not completed until 100 years later, under Bernini's supervision.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Tridente, Trevi & the Quirinale attractions

1. Porta del Popolo

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On the northern flank of Piazza del Popolo, the Porta del Popolo was created by Bernini in 1655 to celebrate Queen Christina of Sweden's defection to…

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Towering over Piazza del Popolo, this 36m-high obelisk was brought to Rome by Augustus from Heliopolis in ancient Egypt. It originally stood in the Circo…

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8. Explora – Museo dei Bambini di Roma

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