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Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli

Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli

Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Scala dell'Arce Capitolina, 12, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Opening Hours

7:00 AM - 7:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps

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expert
Robert
Local tour guide
"Visit the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli later in the afternoon when the tourist groups have dwindled; you'll have a quieter experience and the setting sun casts a beautiful light through its windows. Also, locals know to look for the small side door on the left of the main entrance, which is often less crowded and leads directly to the lesser-known Marco Polo Chapel, a hidden gem within the basilica."

What is the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli?

Nestled atop the Capitoline Hill, the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli stands as a beacon of medieval Christian architecture in the heart of Rome. This basilica, a hidden gem amid the city's more vaunted attractions, is renowned for its sumptuous decoration and the air of tranquility that sets it apart from the bustling city below. Inside its walls, you'll find a rich tapestry of art and history that captures the devotion and craftsmanship of bygone eras.

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Perhaps what I find most captivating is the 124-step staircase leading up to the church, known as the "stairway to heaven," each step carrying centuries of history. While it's more tranquil than the nearby Roman Forum, stepping into Santa Maria in Aracoeli is like uncovering a secret chapter of Rome's storied past, woven with tales of miracles and relics from a time when faith shaped the very stones of the city.

History of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli

The origins of Santa Maria in Aracoeli are steeped in legend. It's said to be built on the foundations of an ancient temple to Juno Moneta, where the sacred geese that alerted Rome to the invasion of the Gauls were housed. Transitioning from pagan to Christian worship, the structure embodies Rome's layered chronicle. It was the 6th-century Byzantine Emperor Justinian who first established a church here, which was later restyled by Franciscans in the medieval period.

The basilica you see today is primarily the result of those medieval renovations, with notable additions in the Renaissance period. Over its lifetime, the church has witnessed significant events, such as the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and being the favored church of Roman nobility, which explains much of the opulent artwork inside. This place isn't simply a monument; it's a living, breathing chronicle of Rome's transition from antiquity to modernity.

Why is the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli Important?

Santa Maria in Aracoeli captures the essence of Rome's spiritual heart with its antiquity and the continuity of faith through the centuries. It symbolizes Rome's complex religious history, transitioning from a pagan society to the center of Catholicism. Art lovers and historians alike cherish the church for its stunning frescoes and paintings, which showcase the work of Renaissance and Baroque artists—an art history lesson etched into walls and ceilings.

For Romans and pilgrims, the church is synonymous with the beloved Santo Bambino, a wooden statue of the Christ child, which is said to have miraculous powers. Although the original was sadly stolen, a replica now holds its place and continues to draw the faithful, especially at Christmas. Have you ever wondered where Romans go to seek solace within the city? This is certainly one such place, where even a whisper seems to echo with the thoughts and prayers of centuries past.

Things to Do & See at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli

When you visit Santa Maria in Aracoeli, prepare to step into a realm that transcends time. Begin by marveling at the grand facade that belies an even more striking interior. The ceiling, which was once a glorious golden canvas, remains breathtaking despite the loss of its gold to fund a battle in the 16th century. It's easy to lose yourself in the beauty of the chapels, each telling its own story through mosaics, sculptures, and frescoes.

Make sure to visit the Pinturicchio frescoes, which are renowned for their delicate beauty and narrative depth. And you certainly mustn't miss the Chapel of San Bernardino, adorned with precious frescoes by Pinturicchio.
For those interested in the macabre, there is the tomb of Giovanni Ceivelli crafted by Donatello, striking in both its artistry and somber presence.

Perhaps you'll also find time to simply sit and reflect, to feel the weight of history and the serenity it imparts to those who visit.

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And I'll let you in on a little secret: after a rainy day, when the clouds part, you can catch a glimmer of the setting sun on the church's mosaic floors—it's a heavenly spectacle that's as temporary as it is ethereal. Everyone knows the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Pantheon—but as you stand in Aracoeli's hallowed halls, you'll discover a piece of Rome that many overlook, carrying the true heart and soul of the Eternal City.

Frequently asked questions

What is the history of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome?

The Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli is a Roman Catholic church located on the Capitoline Hill of Rome. It dates back to the 6th century when it was originally built as a Byzantine church. Over the centuries, it has been rebuilt and renovated multiple times, but it retains a significant amount of medieval charm, with important artworks and a fascinating history tied to the city of Rome.

What are the architectural features of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli?

The Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli features a mix of architectural styles due to the numerous renovations it has undergone. Notably, it has a Romanesque bell tower, a Baroque facade, and Byzantine artwork inside. The interior is famous for its ceiling, carved wooden altar, and the cosmatesque floor, which is a type of traditional geometric mosaic work found in Rome.

Are there any unique artworks or relics in the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli?

Yes, the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli houses several important artworks and relics. It contains the celebrated wooden statue of the Santo Bambino of Aracoeli, which is said to have miraculous powers. Additionally, the basilica has frescoes by Pinturicchio and various tombs and monuments of notable historical figures.

Is there an admission fee to visit the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli?

Generally, there is no admission fee to enter the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Visitors are welcome to enter and explore the church during its opening hours. However, donations are appreciated and may be requested during special events or guided tours.

What are the opening hours of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli?

The opening hours of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli can vary, but it is typically open daily to visitors with shorter hours on Sundays and holidays. It is advisable to check the latest information regarding opening times before visiting, as they can change with little notice, especially during religious observances and special events.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Scala dell'Arce Capitolina, 12, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Opening Hours

7:00 AM - 7:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps