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Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana
Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana

Basilica di Santa Francesca Romana

Deze indrukwekkende kerk, gebouwd in de tweede helft van de 10e eeuw, stond ooit bekend als Santa Maria Nova en werd later gereconstrueerd met de hulp van paus Honorius III nadat ze in de buurt van ruïnes was gevallen. Het indrukwekkende interieur is ontworpen in klassieke stijl, met een enkel schip en verschillende zijkapellen. Decoratieve mozaïeken bedekken het rechthoekige schip en de privé-biechtstoel is bekleed met prachtig marmer.

Naast het bieden van een rustige plek voor gebed en contemplatie (evenals een aantal opmerkelijke oude architectuur), kunnen reizigers het beroemde historische icoon Madonna Glycophilousa vinden, dat dateert uit de 5e eeuw, evenals het graf van paus Gregorius XI in de prachtige zalen van deze beroemde Romaanse kerk.

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Piazza Santa Francesca Romana, 4, Rome, Italy

The basics

The church of Santa Francesca Romana is the only surviving example of a christian site in the Roman Forum. The church’s official name is Santa Maria Nova, though most locals prefer its less official title. The current building dates in part to the 10th century AD, and occupies part of the site of the great second-century temple of Venus Felix founded by the emperor Hadrian. The dominant travertine marble facade was added in the 16th century.

Inside, visitors can see the huge painting known as Vergine col Bambino (virgin with child). Dating back to the 6th century AD, it’s one of the oldest pieces of Christian art in existence anywhere in the world. The church also contains the preserved remains of Saint Frances, a nun who founded the religious order Olivetan Oblates of Mary in the 15th century, and for whom the church is named.

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Things to know before you go

  • Entry to the church is free.
  • Make sure you take in the church’s elaborately decorated ceilings.
  • On St Frances’ feast day – March 9th – Roman residents try to park as close to the church as possible to have their cars blessed for the coming year.
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How to get there

Santa Maria Francesca is located within the Roman Forum complex, although it can be visited separately. It’s accessible on foot from the Forum and the Colosseum. Hop-on-hop-off tour buses stop at the edge of the Forum. The closest metro stop is Colosseo on Line B.

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When to get there

The church is open daily year-round. As with many attractions in Rome, visitors numbers increase during summer vacation and other holiday periods. The church is lovely and cool and makes a nice break from the weather on Rome’s hottest days.

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Visit the National Museum of Rome at Palazzo Altemps

One of four sites that make up the National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Altemps is right in the heart of Rome behind Piazza Navona, but is often not as busy as other attractions in the city. The palazzo itself has grand interiors and a pleasant courtyard, and the museum collection holds a wealth of Greek and Roman sculptures as well as some Egyptian art and artifacts.

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