Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, Rome Overview

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the four major Catholic churches in Rome. It is also the first and the largest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Locals sometimes refer the church as “Our lady of the snow”. It is popular for the mosaics, serene ambience and its grandeur.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is a 5th-century church the underwent substantial reparation and renovation in the later centuries till the mid-20th century. Every year in the first week of August, a special event marking its existence is organized at the church piazza. Visitors can enjoy a light show along with the stunning 13th-century architecture. If one is around during this time of the year, visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is much recommended.

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Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

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Legend of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The legend associated with Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore was sort of a hidden one. It was told to people only after the 11th century. Its historic significance is not known as it is stated only in a few recent texts. According to the story, there was once a couple who owned the property where the church now stands. They did not have any heir and so, decided to dispose of their estate in the name of the Virgin Mary. On the night of 5th of August, centuries before the church was built, there was snowfall on Esquiline Hill. This was taken as a blessing because August is peak summer in Rome. The same night, the couple had a vision of Mother Mary on the same location and subsequently built a basilica on the very spot.    

Architecture of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore represents imperial Rome with its traditional/classical architecture. It consists of an altar or the Crypt of the Nativity, the Borghese Chapel and the triumphal arch. The aisles are lined by tall Athenian and Marian pillars. The high altar contains wood which belongs to the Holy Crib of the nativity of Jesus Christ. This site is also the burial site of Saint Jerome. The interiors of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore are especially famous for its mosaic. Some depict the stories of the Virgin Mary, while some, the Old Testament. The church architecture also consists of paintings, bronze statues of angels, and decorated ancient facade and frescoes.  

How to Reach Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is located in Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore. The roadways connect the attraction to the rest of the city. Therefore, one can opt for city buses, taxis or self-driven vehicles to reach the attraction. Some railway and metro lines that pass through the areas nearby the attraction. Travellers can board one of these trains/ metros till the drop point and then walk or hire a taxi to reach Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

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