Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore Rome | Basilica St. Mary of the Angels | Tour in Rome. Visit the most important Basilicas and Churches of Rome
This edifice is the best-preserved hall of Diocletian’s Bath, converted into a church by Michelangelo in 1563.
With the transformation of this building, the great artist, aged 88, accomplished the last work of his long artistic career. Official Rome Guide, Rome is walking city Tours.
The round hall we see on entering does not form part of the church of Michelangelo but was another hall of the Baths (probably a Calidarium) added by Vanvitelli, in 1740 when he altered the church to the present form. The artist adapted this circular hall as a vestibule and added the tribune and choir on the other side, thus converting the large central hall, the nave in Michelangelo’s church, into a transept.
On each side of the entrance are the tombs of Salvator Rosa and Carlo Maratta, two famous painters of the 17th century. Against the pier, on the right, is the beautiful statue of St. Bruno the founder of the Carthusian order, by Houdon, so much admired by Pope Clement XIV, who used to say: “He would speak if the rules of his order would allow him to do so”.
A little further, we can enjoy the view of the large vaulted hall of the Baths of Diocletian, perfectly preserved and the only hall in Rome which gives us an idea of the magnificence of the Roman baths as it was left nearly intact by Michelangelo. Guide of Rome.
The only modification in this hall is raising the floor and the bases of the columns, the originals being buried seven feet lower down.
The bases we see now are modern and made in two pieces put around the shaft. Of the sixteen large columns that ornament the church, only the eight in the transept are original granite. The others were built, by Vanvitelli, in bricks and stucco in imitation of the old ones.
This hall is a gallery of large pictures; most of them were removed here from the church of St Peter when they were replaced there by mosaic copies. Official Rome Guide | Rome, walking city Tours.
The bronze rosettes visible on the roof, fixed in each vault compartment, are original and probably served as supporting hanging lamps. These audacious and enormous vaults, springing up from very high walls and pilasters, are an example of the skill and perfection of the Roman thermal architecture and the strength of the Roman cement. They are a Roman creation in which the Romans show their great superiority over the Greeks.
According to an ancient Christian tradition, based on the authority of the martyrologists, the baths were built by the forced labor of forty thousand Christians, who afterward were martyred. Most probably, we are indebted to this tradition for the preservation of this beautiful edifice.
On the walls, on each side of the high altar, are frescoes also removed from the church of St. Peter. At the end of the tribune is a beautiful Madonna surrounded by a glory of angels by Perugino.
On the left, the tomb of Pope Pius IV of the Medici family, who had the building transformed into a church. Professional, expert, official tour guides of Rome.
Astronomer Bianchini traced the meridian line we see on the floor in the year 1701 to fix the date of Easter’s celebration, which sometimes had been erroneously calculated.
In the center of the arms coat of Pope Clements XI, high up in the right transept, there is a hole through which the ray of the Sun passes, striking on the meridian line traced underneath. On each side of the line are signs of the constellations, designed by Carlo Maratta.
In the right transept: the tomb of General Diaz, the commander in chief of the Italian army during the war 1915-1918. Guide of Rome.
Turning to the right beyond the Hotel St Regis in Rome, we see the fountain of Moses.