Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Piazza di S. Maria Maggiore - 00185 Rome
Esquilino [R.XV]
Esquilino [1E]

It is one of the four patriarchal basilicas of Rome together with San Giovanni in Laterano, San Pietro in Vaticano and San Paolo fuori le mura.

It is also called Liberiana after the basilica built by the pope Liberio in the point shown to him in August of 356 by the appeared vision and by the miraculous snowfall according to a legend
which the other name of Santa Maria della Neve comes from. Yet the Liberiana was in the other place and it was built according to the will of Sisto III (432-440) in 431 which proclaimed Madonna as the Mother of God following the council of Ephesus.

The apse was rebuilt by Nicholas IV (1288-1292) and Clement X (1670-1676) reconstructed the main façade but the current building is the work of F.Fuga (1743-50) which added a new façade to the ancient outlook. It is closed between two wings which are in the form of edifices and on their right the high and romantic roman bell-tower rises as a cuspide piramidale. It is the tallest bell-tower of Rome, 75 metres high and dates to 1375-76.
The lodge that gets open on the porth keep the mosaics signed by Filippo Rusuti (the end of the XIIIth century), on the left la Porta Santa can be found.

The huge and harmonious interior of the Basilica is 86 metres long and is devided in three naves by monolithic columns (36 ones of "imetto" marble and 4 ones of granite) with ionic capitels which support directly a decorated vault by the mosaic stem and still conserve the precious testimonies of the original paleocristiane?. The mosaics of the medium nave and those of the magnificent triumphal arch date to the time of Sixtus (432-440) while those of the apse belong to Jacopo Torriti who was a follower of Cavallini who depicted the Incoronazione di Maria in 1295.

Among many internal chapels of the Basilica two chapels are worth of particular attention: the Sistina Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament begun in 1585 by Sisto V, Felice Paretti created by Domenico Fontana, the Paolina Chapel or Borghese chapel commissioned by pope Paul V (Camillo Borghese) created by Flaminio Ponzio and accomplished in 1611.

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