Santa Maria Antiqua

Rome, Italy

Located at the foot of the Palatine Hill, Santa Maria Antiqua is the oldest and most significant Christian monument in the Roman Forum. The church was abandoned in the 9th century after an earthquake buried the buildings; it remained sealed for over 1000 years until its rediscovery in the early 20th century. Therefore, Santa Maria Antiqua represents a key element for the understanding of the cultural and urban development of the Roman Forum from Antiquity into the first centuries of the Christian period. Following a conservation program, the church is now open for tours.

The church contains a unique collection of wall paintings from the 6th to late 8th century. The discovery of these paintings have given many theories on the development of early medieval art and given distinctive beliefs in archaeology. The church has the earliest Roman depiction of Santa Maria Regina, the Virgin Mary as a Queen, from the 6th century.



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Founded: 5th century
Category: Religious sites in Italy


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

David (11 months ago)
A wonderful church full to the brim of great frescoes.
Teusz Macherja (17 months ago)
One of the prettiest places in the Roman Forum and Palatium Hill.
Guus Stoelinga (2 years ago)
Fantastic old church, abandoned after the 847 earthquake. The todays presentation with audio and video shows how the church has been decorated in the various stages of its use. Highly recommended.
Avery DeMarco (2 years ago)
My highlight on my trip to the Forum, and I accidentallystumbled on it! The art is amazing, and the history behind the church is fascinating. The experience is enhanced by digital features showing the development of the art. It's a must see, despite it being secluded!
Gianluca Pica (4 years ago)
As a tour guide I had the extraordinary opportunity, when it was open, to visit the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua and also to bring tourists, who were amazed by what they saw. And how to blame them ... After all, the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua is a building, or what remains of it including frescoes, which fully represents the polychrome and style typical of the Middle Ages, a period often mistreated but which has left us many beautiful artists. In this case we have a church, brought to light after painstaking restoration work that lasted years, dating back to around the 6th - 7th century, a church that certainly must have been beautiful and with the walls completely covered with frescoes. And it is extraordinary to see still today numerous remains of paintings that are also brought back to life through new visual technologies. A combination of modernity and the Middle Ages that makes the place unique. One of the strong points of the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua (which was buried by an earthquake in the 9th century and which was rediscovered only 1100 years later) is the small chapel to the left of the altar where we see a beautiful painted Crucifixion in which Christ is dressed in a long blue dress typical of oriental iconography. At the time, around the seventh century AD, there were many monks or scholars who moved here from the East, bringing with them a breath of fresh air in style and more. And this little fresco is capable of showing us all this.
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