Saturday, August 18, 2012

Church Hopping - Roman Style

Along with visiting the Vatican and the ancient ruins, we managed to stop in quite a few beautiful churches.  After seeing St. Peter's, you'd think there would't be anything else that that would be impressive, but each place had unique artwork and decoration.  Unfortunately, they all started to blur together, so I am writing this post to help me try to sort out which church was which!

Santa Maria sopra Minerva is located close to the Pantheon.   I was surprised how plain most of the church exteriors were, very different to typical cathedrals in France and England.   A unique statue of an elephant supporting an Egyptian obelisk by Bernini stands in the plaza in front of the church.  

This is one of the rare Gothic churches in Rome and is filled with artwork (aren't they all?) and gorgeous deep blue vaulted ceilings.

The Church of the Gesu (above) is a Baroque Jesuit church with a plain exterior but an interior filled with luminous golden painted ceilings.

The golden color of the dome and altar was enriched by the late afternoon sun light pouring through the upper windows.  

Sant Ignazio de Loyola (above) is an other extravagant church covered with marble and gilt.  The painted ceilings have an amazing sense of depth.  

Church Saint Louis of the French (San Luigi die Francesi) is noted especially for three beautiful Caravaggio paintings depicting the life of Matthew.  

And finally, Santa Maria In Trastevere is noted for its beautiful mosaics. I loved the line of sheep that decorate this part of the ceiling.

Note for "church hopping" in Rome:  many churches close for several hours in the afternoon and reopen later in the evening, so check the hours in guidebooks or online in advance.  Also, modest dress is expected and in many cases you will be turned away if you don't have the correct clothing.  No bare shoulders - many women carried a long scarf that can be used to cover their shoulders and some churches had scarfs that you could borrow for a "donation."  No shorts allowed either, although we discovered that in most cases people were able to enter with longer shorts that hit right at the knee.  


Meghan said...

Your photo of the Caravaggios is wonderful for how dim it is in there! That church was a highlight of my weekend in Rome.

Clever Karen said...

They had box where you could put in a few euros and it would switch on a light on the paintings for a short period of time, which helped me to get a decent picture. I also had a new camera which seemed to do quite well in natural light in museums and churches.


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