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Santa Maria in Trastevere

Santa Maria in Trastevere

The church of Santa Maria in Trastevere dominates the piazza of the same name in the very heart of the Trastevere District. It is the most important church in Trastevere and is part of what was once an ancient Roman home. The church should not be separated from the fountain, an octagonal pool designed by the architect Carlo Fontana in 1692, which sits in the center of the piazza in front of the church. These two artistic treasures are perhaps the most important historic monuments to see in the once a poor and strategic district, the history of which travels back to the very beginning of Rome.

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Santa Maria in Trastevere: The Piazza and the Fountain
According to tradition the fountain of Santa Maria in Trastevere is the oldest one in Rome. In fact, it appeared on a map of the town by Pietro Massaio dating back to 1471. The church of Santa Maria in Trastevere was called “Sancta Maria in Fontibus” and for this reason it is probable that the fountain of 1471 was a remake of an older one. The epigram written in distichs and engraved on the memorial tablet placed in a corner of the square was due to a restoration called for by Cardinal Lopez towards the end of 1400. The history of this fountain is marked by a continous shortage of water. Alessandro VII Chigi (1655-1667) gave 36 ounces of water (instead of 5) and decided to move it to the center of the square. Works were ordered to Bernini in 1659. The upper part of the monument was modified, while the lower one, the octagonal pool, was placed on some steps; the four double shells, the coats of arms of the Chigi and some inscriptions to recall of the restoration were added. About thirty years later (1692) the Pope Innocent XII proceeded with extraordinary works of cleaning the fountain, during which the capacity of the pool was increased and the double shells were turned towards the pool as if  to protect it. Finally, in 1873 the City of Rome reconstructed the fountain completely in Bardiglio marble instead of Travertine, considering the pattern of 1692.

Santa Maria in Trastevere: The Basilica
Santa Maria in Trastevere is probably one of the most ancient churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome. According to a legend it was built on an oily spring where in 38 B.C. the birth of the Savior was announced. Among the first places where the Christians officiated freely their services, it was begun during the pontificate of Callisto between 221 and 227 and finished by Julius I. At the time of Pope Innocent II, it was completely renewed and redecorated according to the Baroque style. The façade is decorated with a marvellous Medieval mosaics that represents the Virgin Mary on the throne with the Holy Baby joined by a procession of ten virgins, the whole passes through the portico planned by Carlo Fontana (1702). The bell tower dates back to the XII century, it is one of the tallest and most typical in Rome. The interior belongs to the XII century, the roof is a work by Domenichino (the author of the central Assumption too), it has bare columns, the capitals belong to an Egyptian temple, the paving is in part Cosmatesque. The real jewels of the church are the mosaics that decorate the apse of the XII century representing Mary’s triumph. Other frescos and mosaics by Pietro Cavallini dating back to the XIIII century represent episodes of Saint Mary’s life. The small chapel of the tabernacle is noteworthy, a Rococo work by Raguzzini while the Avila Chapel by Antonio Gherardi (1680), is considered the greatest Baroque work in Rome after Bernini and Borromini. In the sacristy two gracious mosaics dating back to the I century B.C. are kept. Among the other works to be seen is the icon of the Madonna della Clemenza, a precious exemplary dating back to the VI century and the Altemps Chapel (end of the XVI century).

Santa Maria in Trastevere: While You're There
There is lots to do in Trastevere. You will be able to do some shopping in Viale Trastevere,  enjoy the nightlife and contemporary culture of Trastevere,  or simply visit and discover the history of Rome Trastevere.

More and different things to come in Santa Maria in Trastevere.


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