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.



Your name


Founded: 5th century
Category: Religious sites in Italy


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gianluca Pica (11 months 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.
Adam CHAAR (12 months ago)
David Robinson (19 months ago)
Very beautiful chiesa. Be careful if it is opened, because it's not somedays. It is a 6th century church, located in Rome. Exhibition is big and educational. I recommend to visit it as one of the most beautiful places in Rome.
AndreaMaria Scapati (2 years ago)
Extraordinary place of worship immersed in a late antique environment. The place is a rare sixth-century art; the frescoes bear references to the Lateran council of 617. Among the other frescoes it is worth noting that of St. John Chrysostom. Among the sculptural marvels, an early Christian sarcophagus of great value
Ivo Hermsen (2 years ago)
Voor mij een van de mooiste dingen die te zien zijn op het forum. Een van de oudste kerken in Rome die dankzij een aardbeving nog redelijk bewaard is gebleven. Met lichttechnieken worden oude fresco’s tot leven geroepen. Alleen al de gang ernaartoe is de moeite waard. Zorg dat je een super ticket hebt voor de toegang. Jammer dat anderen een slechte beoordeling geven omdat het gesloten was, dit doet dit schitterende monument te kort.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Roman Walls of Lugo

Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.

Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.

The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.

Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.

Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.

The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.