Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome Overview

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest Catholic Marian church in the city of Rome. Also known as the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, it is a part of Rome’s four most prominent basilicas which makes it a must visit monument in the city. The church is known for its massive size, marvellous interiors and the masterpieces created by the best of that time. The construction of the different parts of church has happened in different phases of history which is what makes it so unique and popular.

The Basilica is as beautiful and alluring from inside as it is from the outside. Various architectural styles can be seen ranging from early Christian to Baroque owing to its construction at different phases. The mosaics and the marble floors date back to the fifth century, whereas the facades and some interiors come from the restoration of the monument in the 18th century. The domes, the chapel and the columns are in traditional Baroque style, and the inner paintings on the ceiling can be credited to the Renaissance Era. The Bell Tower is considered to be the highest in Rome with a height of 75 metres.

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Before the church was built, a pagal temple of Goddess Cybele stood on the same site. After that around the middle of the fourth century, the construction of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore began by the orders of the Pope Liberius. Legend says that Virgin Mary appeared in the dream of Pope Liberius and directed him with the instructions to build the church. The church was then called Basilica of Santa Maria Liberiana in dedication to his name. 

The basilica had been known by different names over different time periods. It was earlier known as the Santa Maria della Neve (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Snow) as the snow helped in shaping of the church. It was also called Santa Maria Del Presepe (Saint Mary of the Nativity) as it was given a relic of the Holy Nativity. And finally, it was named to as what we call it now - Basilica of Saint Mary Maggiore as it was the largest church in the city dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary.

How to Reach Santa Maria Maggiore

Metro: Termini - line A and line B

Light Rail: 5

Train: FC1, FL4, FL5

Buses: 16, 70, 71, 105, 714, SITBUS

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