Thursday, October 05, 2006

S Giovanni in Laterano Basilica, Rome

Basilica S Giovanni in Laterano in Rome

This image from S Giovanni in Laterano in Rome is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of Rome. There are over 100 images taken from around Rome linked to an interactive map.

S Giovanni in Laterano is one of the most important churches in Rome. It is in fact the cathedral of Rome and up until 1870 was the site where the Popes were coronated. As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, containing the papal throne (Cathedra Romana), it ranks above all other churches in the Roman Catholic Church, even above St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Though receiving far fewer visitors than St. Peter’s the effort is well worth while. The first thing to strike the visitor is the immense size, S Giovanni in Laterano is 130m long with two aisles either side.

There are two entrances. It is almost more revealing to enter through the North Façade into one of the transepts. This provides a glimpse of the Papal Altar, but obscures much of the nave from immediate view. As you approach the nave the whole comes into view. The main entrance is in the East Façade.

The name comes from the patrician Lateranus family who were accused of conspiracy against Emperor Nero. Nero confiscated their property and executed some of the family members. In 4C the property came into the hands of Constantine who arranged for a church to be built here. The church has retained its original plan, although the interior dates from 1649 having been destroyed by fire on several occasions. The east façade was added in 1734.

In the apse of the church is the Papal Throne. The Papal Altar in the middle of the transepts is a Gothic baldacchino dating from the 14C. Attached to the church is an important museum containing many artifacts.

This image shows some of the huge 8m statues that line the nave in alcoves framed by massive pillars. There are 12 of them, one for each of the Apostles and date from the early 18C. Above them are stuccoes depicting scenes from the Old Testament. The full panoramic image shown on the Rome tour by For better appreciation of this image go to the collection on Flickr.

For more articles on Rome see the Rome Index or select one of the labels at the bottom.

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