Rome is a city where basilicas and churches are part of its charm and where you will never find one the same as another.
Here we are going to talk about the imposing Basilica of Santa María la Mayor, which was built in the 5th century and is therefore the first Christian temple dedicated to the Virgin. According to legend, the Virgin herself marked the exact location of the basilica by making snow fall in August while Pope Liberius was in charge of marking the perimeter of the basilica that she should build on the snow.
There is a Tour of the basilicas of Rome, which we recommend you take because in a very short time you will be able to see them all at the hands of an expert guide.
Visiting the Basilica of Santa Maria la Mayor. The outside
All the iconography of the temple of Santa María la Mayor revolves around the Virgin Mary
In it, it is possible to find different architectural styles that go from paleo-Christian to baroque due to the different reforms that it has undergone throughout history.
However, what has not changed since it was built after the Council of Ephesus is its Paleo- Christian plan.
Before entering its interior we must admire its two-story façade crowned by several statues and especially the curious medieval bell tower, very characteristic of this basilica.
Outside there is also a column with an image of the Virgin dating from Roman times and coming from the Roman Forum.
Visit the interior of the Basilica of Santa María la Mayor
After entering its interior, the majesty of the central nave will catch our attention.
And above all the ceiling whose decoration is from the Renaissance period and which is said to have been gilded with the first gold brought after the discovery of America and which was a gift from Emperor Charles V to Pope Alexander VI.
But without a doubt, the most interesting part of its interior are the Paleo-Christian mosaics that are next to the altar and that are from the 5th century.
These mosaics have scenes of the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus and should not be confused with the one found in the apse, which is not from that period but from the 13th century.
Also from that Roman era when the basilica was built are the 27 panels under the windows with scenes from the Old Testament.
Next to the altar we have two other points of interest, on the one hand the Tomb of Bernini and on the other the Relics of the Crib, which are found in the Crypt of Confession and which were brought to this basilica from the Holy Land in the 7th century.
Among the chapels, it is also worth mentioning the Sforza Chapel, which was the last great work of Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel and the Pauline Chapel.
These last two chapels have a similar architecture but one is Renaissance and the other Baroque.
You can find more information on the official website of the Basilica of Santa María la Mayor.