A Lesser Known Beauty: Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere

While talking a walk through Trastevere a couple Saturday’s ago my roommate and I decided to stop into a Basilica that we walk past a lot on the way to school.  It’s not one of the major hotspots being that it’s outside of the main city center, but it is definitely worth visiting.

The piazza outside of it is one of my favorites because there is plenty of space and you can often see some sort of activity going on in it.  On this day there was an accordion player and an adorable little girl who wanted to play along.

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The area around this Piazza is also very busy during the evening with many restaurants, vendors, and people walking around.  The exterior of the church itself looks very different in the evening than it does in the day due to the lighting on the exterior frescoes.

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The beauty of this church doesn’t stop on the outside, the inside is amazingly decorated, and each chapel is worth a close look.  Even the portico of the church is fascinating with its combination masonry of re-utilized marble blocks.

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I particularly like those second two with the lion and the bird.  It’s interesting to see small details like this so seemingly out of place in a basilica.

The inside of the church is stunningly beautiful.  The ceiling in the main section and the stained glass windows are very nice.


By this point I’ve stopped into many churches, and most of them seem to use tealights for their offerings, which does seem practical.  However I thought that their pillar candle offerings dish was very cool here.


The nave is very intricately decorated with both painting, but mainly mosaics:


There are a lot of side chapels as well and each have very different styles of decoration, but all are very beautiful.

SAM_0340 SAM_0341  SAM_0346SAM_0353SAM_0352This is my favorite one.

SAM_0347 This reminds me of the Tomb of Pope Julius II by Michelangelo.

I also loved the floors! They had amazingly detailed tile work:


There were also some sarcophagi that were very nice to look at, very well-done relief sculpture.  The tradition of portraying the deceased sleeping on the top of the coffin goes back to ancient Etruscan times in Italy.  Archaeologists refer to these sarcophagi as ‘sleepers’.



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Overall this is a very worthwhile church to visit.  If you find yourself in Rome, do yourself a favor and visit it.  They have music playing in the background all the time, and it’s a very memorable experience.

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