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Rome is famous for its marvelous churches of all sizes and splendor. Many of these churches and basilicas have been around for centuries and are home to beautiful pieces of artwork. Most of the churches are open to the public with a few that have museums that may charge a small fee. However, just standing outside of one of these churches is a lifetime experience before you even enter through the doors.
If you plan to visit any churches in Italy, please remember there is a dress code. Women cannot have bare shoulders. No mini skirts or shorts are allowed and men cannot wear hats.
The most popular churches in Rome include San Giovanni Laterano, Saint Peter's Basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Clemente, and the Saint Paul Outside the Walls.
The San Giovanni Laterano was at one time the first church of the popes. The Pope of the time lived in the Lateran palace next door. This is the very site of the first Christian church built in Rome. San Giovanni Laterano is often included in the Baroque Rome tour.
Saint Peter's Basilica is the church of the Pope today and is home in Vatican City. Not only is the church one of the largest and most important churches in the world to the Catholic faith, but also has an interior that has all visitors standing in awe at the magnitude and beauty that is found inside. The Sistine Chapel is only a few steps away with the famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo. A visit to Vatican City and Rome must include both of these famous churches in order to embrace the beauty and culture of Rome as well as a glimpse into the past.
At the Santa Maria Maggiore, you will marvel at the 5th century Biblical mosaics, the bell tower, the marble floor, and the uniqueness of the medieval décor. The ceiling of the church is adorned with gold that Columbus brought back from the new world.
San Paulo Fuori la Mura, Saint Paul Outside the Walls is well worth the journey away from the center of Rome to embrace a church that was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1823.
Not a church, but well worth mentioning is the Pantheon. The Pantheon was built as the Roman temple of all gods in 118. This is one of the best-preserved buildings throughout Rome. Even though the Pantheon was at one time a temple for pagans, in the 7th century Christians turned the structure into a church. Inside the Pantheon, you will view tombs of Italian monarchs.
San Clemente is a unique church with the 12th century church you enter sitting directly on top of a 4th century church. You can view the other church through an underground tour that has been unearthed through excavation. The tour is one that will give you goose bumps.
These are just a few of the churches you can visit while in Rome, talking with a professional tour guide to help you decide which churches you would like to include on your private tour will be the best way to embrace all that the various churches have to share.