Referred to as the “Mother of all churches in the world”, the Basilica of St. John Lateran constitutes the perfect linkage between the pagan and Christian eras. Created, in fact, for public meetings and administering justice, with the spread of the new faith it was turned into a imposing ecclesiastical building, capable of welcoming a large congregation.
The Basilica stands on the site of another built by the Emperor Constantine at around 314 A.D. in the grounds of the noble Laterani family, from whom the entire area gets its name. Repeatedly damaged (often as a result of fires) and restored, the basilica was embellished with a series of artistic treasures and adornments accumulated over the centuries.
Behind Alessandro Galilei’s eighteenth century façade lies Borromini’s magnificent interior, commissioned by Pope Innocent X for the Jubilee Year in 1650.
The whole five nave-structure has survived well-preserved through the ages, as indeed has the sumptuous sixteenth century coffered ceiling gilded with real gold in the central nave.
Your stay should now continue with a visit to the museum, where a number of precious liturgical artefacts are kept, as well as to the cloisters, a masterpiece of the Cosmatesque style where relics of the architecture, sculptures and decorations of the ancient basilica are exhibited.