Monday, October 02, 2006

Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome

S Maria In Trastevere
S Maria Maggiore Basilica
Originally uploaded by ptr.watts.

This image of Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome is part of one of the panoramic images found on the PanoramicEarth.com Tour of Rome. There are over 100 images taken from around Rome linked to an interactive map.

S Maria Maggiore is one of the most important churches in Rome, but is situated in a less picturesque part of the city. The image here shows the baldacchino over the high altar. Designed by Ferdinando Fuga, it is made of red porphyry and bronze. The altar is in fact a sarcophagus that contains the remains of various martyrs. Steps to the right of the altar lead down to the confessio which contains a large kneeling statue of Pius IX.

S Maria Maggiore is one of the 4 most important churches in Rome. It is a principle church which means it is under the direction of the Pope. It is also known as Saint Mary Major Basilica or the Liberian Basilica, and is the main church dedicated to Mary.

Originally the site was the location to either Juno Lucina, a Roman goddess of fertility, who was often called Juno Regina (Juno the Queen). The first church was established here in 350 by Pope Liberius, and much of the original interior is still intact. The church hides behind an apsidal fa├žade completed in 1673. The interior of the S Maria Maggiore is 86m long, with 36 columns of Hymettian marble, and 4 granite columns.

Behind the baldacchino, but obscured by it in this picture, are mosaics which date from about 430, and have survived 1600 years. They are in immaculate condition and are the most important mosaics from this period. They depict scenes of the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses and Joshua from the Old Testament.

This is a very popular sight with pilgrims and tourists, but be warned that those considered to be inappropriately dressed will be refused entry. Because of the popularity, it took about 20 min to wait for a gap in the crowds to capture this shot. The whole image is found on the Rome tour by PanoramicEarth.com.

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

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