Basilica of Saint Clement

Rome, Italy

The Basilica of Saint Clement, dedicated to Pope Clement I, is especially notable for its three historical layers. The 12th-century basilica is built on top of a well-preserved 4th-century church (with many frescoes), which was built next to a 3rd-century Mithraic Temple. For an admission fee, it is possible to explore the excavations of the lower two levels, which is a fascinating journey into the history of Rome.

This ancient church was transformed over the centuries from a private home that was the site of clandestine Christian worship in the 1st century to a grand public basilica by the 6th century, reflecting the emerging Catholic Church's growing legitimacy and power.

The current basilica was rebuilt by Cardinal Anastasius, ca 1099-ca. 1120. Today, it is one of the most richly adorned churches in Rome. The ceremonial entrance (a side entrance is ordinarily used today) is through an atrium surrounded by arcades, which now serves as a cloister, with conventual buildings surrounding it. Fronting the atrium is the chaste facade of Carlo Stefano Fontana, supported on antique columns, and his little campanile (illustration). The basilica church behind it is in three naves divided by arcades on ancient marble or granite columns, with Cosmatesque inlaid paving. The 12th-century schola cantorum incorporates marble elements from the original basilica. Behind it, in the presbytery is a ciborium raised on four gray-violet columns over the shrine of Clement in the crypt below. The episcopal seat stands in the apse, which is covered with mosaics on the theme of the Triumph of the Cross that are a high point of Roman 12th century mosaics.


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Founded: 300-400 AD
Category: Religious sites in Italy


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Przemek Kaszuba (5 months ago)
The Basilica of Saint Clement (Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano) Beauty and one of the oldest churches in Rome.
m e (6 months ago)
A little far from other places, and smaller building compared to other similar churches in Rome, but overall if you have extra time, it’s nice to take the subway, and walk a little in the city in your way to get to this basilica. Make sure you reserve the underground ticket in advance (a few days). Usually underground tour tickets will be sold out few hours or days before each tour.
Matt Walsh (6 months ago)
This is an astounding site, where you can walk down through three eras of structures, down down into the pagan temple structure three levels down to the 2,000 year old floor. This is the best example of well preserved Rome Lasagne and not just ruins. They control visitors so it wasn’t packed, so best to book your spot beforehand. There are some nice surprises too, like ancient underground streams still flowing through the bottom of the structure in places.
g c (7 months ago)
A few minutes walk from the colosseum, a beautiful church with a charming little front square with a fountain. Inside you find beautiful art and Roman archaeology (the church is free to visit, but the museum is for a fee)
pmw (8 months ago)
It was a wonderful tour and was historically significant. Best seen with a guide to bring it to life and provide the colorful history behind it all. With an estimated 7 miles of tunnels dedicated to the burial of their dead, it truly is a wonder in itself. Please note that there are no bodies in the viewing areas where the tours take place, and many extended areas are closed off to the public. What is available on the tours is quite remarkable. If you found this review helpful, please tap a thumbs up to let me know . Thanks!
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