The most beautiful churches in Rome
Good afternoon my beautiful brides, today we are talking about a topic that I particularly love: which are the most beautiful churches in Rome where you can celebrate your wedding?
Did you know that the Capital is the city with the most churches in the world? Just think that there are more than 900 churches in Rome. The question arises: how then to choose the right one for your most beautiful day?!
Below I will provide you with a guide to the most beautiful and hidden churches in Rome that I love for their charm, beauty and history.
Usually, behind the choice of church for one’s wedding there is a connection with the church itself, for reasons related to the couple’s childhood or past, for the history handed down by the church itself, for its secrets and hidden treasures, or for its location and aesthetic appearance.
So there is no such thing as the perfect church, in my opinion, but there is the one that makes your heart beat faster the first time you meet it, the one that makes us imagine walking down the aisle in our sumptuous dress to the notes of the wedding march. In short, the one that makes us dream and excite!
So amidst majestic arches, sumptuous vaults and elegant cathedrals, I show you what could be the church choices for your perfect day in the city of Rome.
Churches in Rome where to get married
Saints Giovanni e Paolo
One of the most popular churches for weddings, in fact, the effect of the lights, chandeliers and spotlights during the ceremony, combined with the church’s beautiful interior, makes it one of the most evocative and wonderful churches in Rome and the world. The popularity of this Basilica is due to the beauty of its Baroque interior, decorated with an impressive number of chandeliers that give the ceremony a wonderfully romantic atmosphere. The chandeliers are not the only source of illumination: during the celebration of weddings, numerous upward-facing spotlights are lit, making the white coffered ceiling of the Basilica stand out, an image that leaves anyone attending the ceremony breathless.
Saint Maria in Arcoeli
It is certainly one of the most beautiful and evocative churches in Rome. Numerous VIPs have chosen to celebrate their weddings in this church. In fact, the church is very large and can hold a very large number of people/invitees. The location is very scenic as it sits atop the Capitoline Hill and has the main entrance at the top of an imposing staircase (124 steps!). The view, offered as a reward to those who walk down the steps, is wonderful, and your wedding guests will be thrilled by both the view and the beauty of this basilica.
The Basilica of Saint Clemente in Laterano is one of the most interesting and oldest basilicas in Rome, erected before 385 and dedicated to St. Clemente, the third pope after St. Pietro. It consists of two overlapping churches, built on top of Roman buildings from the Republican era and on the remains of a temple of the god Mithras. Although the interior has undergone considerable alterations due to the remodelling carried out by Fontana, it still retains the typical appearance of an ancient Roman Basilica: it is divided into three naves by two marble and granite columns with Ionic capitals. It is enriched by extraordinary frescoes, famous also because they contain an inscription whose words are the first documented in the Italian language after its detachment from Latin.
The church of Saint Sabina is one of the oldest churches in Rome and the world. Located on the Aventine Hill, adjacent to the Orange Garden, it enjoys a splendid panoramic view of Rome. To enter the interior of the church, one must cross the portico and reach the atrium; from there, one can admire through a spyhole, the famous St. Domenico orange tree, the first, according to tradition, brought to Rome in 1216 directly from Portugal by the saint himself. The tree, highlighted by a small circular wall with the inscription ‘lignum habet spem’, i.e. ‘wood keeps hope’, cannot of course be the original one (eight centuries are really too many), but tradition has it that this one miraculously grew over the old one and is therefore still very much venerated.
The church has a beautiful, very wide and high nave and two side aisles; the style is Romanesque and a particular value is the wooden door at the end of the nave. The nave houses, near the apse, the ‘schola cantorum’, i.e. the enclosure created in the nave to accommodate the choristers during religious services.
This church was built in the 4th or 5th century. The Titulus of Aquila and Prisca was recorded in the acts of the synod of 499 and, according to tradition, it is the oldest Christian cult on the Aventine linked to the hospitality received by St. Pietro and St. Paolo. Damaged by the Normans in the Sack of Rome, the church was restored many times. Its current appearance is that of the 1660 restoration that created, among other things, a new façade in Baroque style. The apse of the church depicts angels holding medallions and the high altarpiece with ‘St. Pietro Baptising St. Prisca’ was painted by Domenico Cresti during the 1600s.
The church to this day preserves all the transformations made throughout its history by restorations, architectural works, and enlargements that make it composed of the different styles of the periods. It has a beautiful Romanesque bell tower, a medieval portico with columns and is divided into three naves separated by pillars adorned with Corinthian capitals.
One can also admire a valuable 16th-century cloister with a rectangular ground plan with arched sides and a well from the period. This is the well where, according to the sacred legend concerning Saint Alexis, he drank after having fled to Syria for 17 years to avoid marriage and on his return was not recognised by his relatives, relegated to a dungeon, old and ill. Upon his death, tradition recalls how all the bells of Rome rang in unison.
The church of Saint Anselmo is located on the Aventine Hill, next to the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, a favourite destination for tourists who can admire the beauty of St. Pietro’s dome through the famous keyhole. From the left side of the square, a discreet and orderly avenue leads to the church preceded by a four-sided portico with a small fountain in the centre and the bronze statue of Saint Anselmo by the Swiss sculptor A. Wider from Widnau. The church was built between 1892 and 1900 to a design by Francesco Vespignani and ab. Ildebrando de Hemptinne in pure neo-Romanesque style.
The three naves are divided by granite columns with Ionic capitals, while the columns supporting the triumphal arch above the altar end in Corinthian capitals. The mosaic in the apse depicts the twinned Cross between angels and Saints Benedetto and Anselmo, the work of the German monk Radbodus Commandeur.
Saints Nereo and Achilleo
A place of Roman worship, this church in Rome is located near the Baths of Caracalla. The structure was built in honour of Saints Nereo and Achilleo, who are said to have been the servants of Flavia Domitilla, a noble woman martyred with them because of their Christian faith. Over the centuries, this structure underwent various rebuilding works. Today, the façade is enriched by frescoes signed by the artist Girolamo Massei, three ogival windows, only the central one of which is open today, and a porch supported by two Corinthian-style columns. The interior structure, on the other hand, is basilica-like and consists of three naves, separated by octagonal pillars; also inside, we can find the frescoes commissioned by Cardinal Baronio.
Saint Pietro in Montorio
The church is located in one of the most beautiful places in the Capital, on the slopes of one of its hills, the Janiculum Hill, from which there is a truly impressive view of historic Rome. Saint Pietro in Montorio in itself is a unique historical, artistic and architectural monument, and its foundation in the Middle Ages is due to the traditional memory of the Crucifixion of the Apostle Pietro at the very spot where Bramante’s Tempietto was built, a work that crowns the entire complex that today preserves all its charm and makes the ceremonies so full of participation in an environment of a high cultural and spiritual sense. The interior of the church has a single nave and a series of side chapels adorned by the skill of renowned artists such as Vasari and Bernini.
Saint Pietro in Vincoli
The Basilica of Saint Pietro in Vincoli is located on the Colle Oppio behind the Faculty of Engineering of La Sapienza University. This church in Rome is very prestigious and popular with tourists as it houses Michelangelo’s famous Moses, a majestic sculpture near the apse of the basilica. Saint Pietro in Vincoli was built to house St Peter’s chains: according to legend, Pope Leone I had brought them close together to compare them and the chains had joined together inseparably. The interior of the church has a basilica plan and is divided into three naves, separated by 20 ancient Greek marble, Doric columns, possibly from the nearby Portico di Livia complex and part of the original 5th century early Christian construction. The lowered barrel vault of the nave displays a large fresco by Giovanni Battista Parodi. Immediately to the left of the entrance is the tomb of Antonio and Piero del Pollaiolo, with busts depicting the two Florentine artists, surmounted by a fresco of them.
Saints Cosma e Damiano
The Basilica of Saints Costa and Damiano is located along Via dei Fori Imperiali. Completely immersed in the Forum of Vespasian, adjacent to the Temple of the Divine Romulus, this minor basilica has all the characteristics to celebrate a wonderful wedding. The exterior is not surprising in terms of beauty and grandeur, but the interior of this Church of Rome will amaze you. The vibrant colours of the beautiful mosaics and frescoes, the stunning ceiling and the suggestive view of the Temple of Romulus make this basilica unique. To enter the church, one passes through a characteristic cloister, which provides an ideal setting for gathering guests before and after the wedding. The church is not very large, but can accommodate a maximum of a hundred guests.
Built by Pasquale I in 822, it was restored several times, with alterations to its primitive character. The façade, from which the uncovered atrium opens, has columns from the ancient narthex and three curved windows at the top. The basilica interior was originally divided into three naves by sixteen granite columns directly supporting the entablature. Four of these were later incorporated into reinforcing pillars, on which three large transverse arches were set. The frescoes on the walls with ‘Stories of the Passion’, figures of ‘Apostles’ on the pillars, putti and festoons, works by various authors from the early 17th century, are splendid. In the centre of the floor, a porphyry disc covers a well where, according to legend, St. Prassede collected the remains and blood of martyrs. The chapel of Saint Zeno is the most important Byzantine monument in Rome and contains some of the most important Byzantine mosaics. The church houses the bust of bishop Santoni, Bernini‘s first sculptural work.
Saint Carlo alle Quattro Fontane
Among the Baroque churches of Rome, famous for their scenic locations and imposing bulk, the church of St. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane is often unjustly forgotten. In fact, it is one of Borromini‘s most original works, ingeniously constructed with the same dimensions as one of the pillars of St. Pietro’s dome.
The church, founded in 1638 and incorporated into the convent of the Spanish Trinitarians, the master’s patrons, is his last creation, left unfinished at his death in 1667. The façade, tall and narrow with a curvilinear design, is divided into six compartments and a portal surmounted by a niche with Saint Carlo praying.
The interior, with an oval plan covered by an elliptical dome elegantly decorated with hexagons, octagons and crosses that diminish towards the lantern, contains Corinthian columns that follow the undulating movement of the walls, which house graceful chapels. The cloister, small in size, is harmonious, organic and well-proportioned: it is surrounded by Doric and coupled columns supporting the arches of the elegant portico.
Saint Maria in Trastevere
The façade has a conspicuous mosaic and there is a portico by Fontana. Also visible from the square is the bell tower adorned with a mosaic depicting the Madonna and Child. Inside, the Basilica is divided into three naves, with Corinthian and Ionic columns. The ceiling is made of wood, artfully designed in a very evocative style, which gives those present strong feelings of empathic beauty.
Saint Maria della Pace
Founded on the site of the medieval chapel of Saint Andrea de Acquaricariis, in the late 15th century Sixtus IV commissioned this church in Rome possibly from Baccio Pontelli. It was rebuilt in its present form by Pietro da Cortona, whose façade with semicircular pronaos is his architectural masterpiece and one of the greatest achievements of Roman Baroque architecture.
Thanks to this intervention, the entire square became a kind of Baroque theatre of which the church is an ideal stage.
Inside are masterpieces by Raffaello, Maderno and Bramante’s cloister.
Saint Francesca Romana
The Basilica di Saint Francesca Romana is located in the square of the same name, accessible from Via dei Fori Imperiali right next to the Colosseum. Completely immersed in the Roman Forum, adjacent to the Flavian Amphitheatre, this is one of the most popular churches in Rome for wedding celebrations. What makes it unique is the atmosphere that surrounding works and monuments, some of the most famous in Rome and the world, give this splendid Basilica. Needless to mention how many tourists visit these places every day, but the church remains quite isolated from the often annoying crowds that burst into the church during celebrations. In fact, access is quite private and surrounded by fences that make the place not exactly ‘passable’ for tourists. The church is not among the largest in Rome, suitable for medium-sized weddings, but not able to seat 150-200 people. The interior is in Baroque style, with wonderful decorations and frescoes on the ceiling and apse.
Saint Giuseppe dei Falegnami
It is located in the vicinity of the Roman Forum. It was built in 1597 by the Archconfraternity of Blacksmiths and Carpenters, who, before that time, used to meet in the Carcere Marmertino, under the present church. This church has a two-order façade, with a door between the half-columns and the tympanum; volutes and aedicules enrich the architecture of the church. The interior, on the other hand, consists of a single nave and in the main chapel are 19th century works such as ‘Journey to Bethlehem’ and ‘St Joseph’s workshop’ by Cesare Maccari. Statues of St. Pietro and St. Paolo are kept in the apse, while the ceiling features the famous relief of the Nativity by Carlo Maratta.
The mausoleum of St. Costanza is located outside the walls on Via Nomentana. Initially, it was part of the Basilica of St. Agnese. The structure was dedicated to Costantina when she was made a saint and was consecrated by Pope Alessandro IV as a church in 1254. The first restoration took place in 1620 and it was on this occasion that Costantina’s sarcophagus was moved to the Vatican Museums. The mausoleum of St. Costanza has a circular floor plan, which is covered by a hemispherical dome with a drum from which twelve arched windows open; the nave is surrounded by twelve pairs of marble columns. Finally, the most important part of the building was the ambulatory, which, covered by a barrel vault, was decorated with mosaics dating back to the 4th century depicting harvest scenes and portraits of Costanza with her first husband.
Saint Cesareo in Pallatio
This church was built on the remains of a Roman building and rebuilt at the end of the 16th century, probably by Giacomo della Porta. In front of the church, an ancient granite column with a cross stands in the middle of a flowerbed. The interior is very simple, with a single rectangular hall, an elegant ceiling and gilded panels on a blue background together with the heraldic insignia of Pope Clemente VIII and the figure of the titular saint. Very characteristic are the two marble angels, in the act of opening a curtain, standing at the sides of a grilled window that gave light to the crypt below.
Saint Spirito in Sassia
The church of Saint Spirito in Sassia was built on the site of a former church dedicated to the Virgin Mary at the behest of King Ine of Sassia, for the pilgrims of the Saxon ‘nation’. The church, repeatedly ruined and destroyed over the centuries, was largely rebuilt after the sack of Rome by Antonio Sangallo the Younger (1538 – 1544), and completed during the pontificate of Pio V. The high façade is believed to be the work of Ottaviano Mascherino, who executed it on commission by Pope Sisto V, according to a design by Sangallo. It is entirely plastered, on two different orders: the first has six pilasters including the portal and four niches; the second has four, including a gable surmounted by the coat of arms of Sisto V. The interior, with a spacious nave with five chapels on each side and a large apse, is of magnificent effect due to the elegance of its lines, right proportions and rich pictorial decoration. The nave and side chapels, in fact, are decorated with a series of lively and luminous frescoes.
A journey through the streets of Rome!
After this dive among the most beautiful churches in Rome, I take you for a ride in a beautiful 500 through the streets of the capital. Watch the video and dream with me while admiring the most beautiful city in the world!
And you, have you already chosen your church? Which of these did you like best?
See you soon,
Cover picture: Giulio Pugliese