San Giovanni in Laterano

San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome Overview

Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is the highest ranked and the oldest church among the four main basilicas in rome. It holds the precious title of the ‘archbasilica’ and the ecumenical mother church of the Cathlolic faithful. The reason for its archbasilica title owes to the fact that it is the official seat of the Bishop of Rome - that is the Pope. Also known as the Papal Archbasilica of St John Lateran, it has served as the principal residence of Pope till the 14th century and the centre of all catholic culture.

The facade is two-storey that the pope stands to give his speech every Maundy friday. Several statues of Christ and other deities also stand on the same area, with the major one being the Statue of Constantine the great in the middle of the facade. 

Inside the church, the nave features some of the oldest statues of Rome. In the main hall, we can see the highly throne where the pope sits during some ceremonies. The interiors of the church are also decorated with several mosaics and frescoes that depict various parts of Christ’s life.

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Before the church was built, a palace stood on the same site that belonged to the Laterani Family, hence the church was named Laterano. 

The Church was built by Constantine I in the fourth century, it was the first church constructed in the Roman empire. He showered the church with beautiful decorations that we can still see today. These include the seven silver altars with images of the prophets and 111 chandeliers. His successors also added several other features to the church and the surrounding areas.


  1. It is requested to adhere to the dressing rules of the basilica. 
  2. Do not do any offending behaviour inside the basilica.
  3. Keep your volume low and your phones on silent.

How to Reach San Giovanni in Laterano

Metro: San Giovanni line A and line C

Train: FL5, R

Buses: 16, 81, 85, 87, 650, 714, 792, 810

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