St. John in The Lateran
The Basilica of St. John in the Lateran -- one of Rome’s most intricately-designed tourist attractions -- is also known as the “mother of all churches” in Italy’s Eternal City. This iconic landmark belongs to Rome’s Four Major Basilicas which also include St. Maria Maggiore, St Peter’s, and Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Considered as an architectural achievement of Borromini, this beautiful and historic archbasilica is considered a must-see destination for tourists and pilgrims alike.
The Basilica of St. John in the Lateran -- also known as Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano -- is Rome’s main cathedral, the worship place of the Pope, and his official seat as the Bishop of Rome. The basilica played an important role in Catholic history -- Popes were enthroned here up until 1870. Though a majority of the the basilica’s features are retained, this well-beloved church has undergone major refurbishment throughout the years.
The facade of The Basilica of St. John in the Lateran may make visitors think that it’s one drab attraction -- many people believe the outside walls lack the flamboyance of the Baroque era -- but the basilica’s interior makes up for the plainness of the exterior. Rumor has it that the gold found in the apse can feed up to 12,000 Romans for an entire year during the time it was built. The interior boasts of pure opulence -- it’s a breathtaking beauty which features a golden ceiling, a 15th-century floor made of mosaic, and a nave in the center where muscular sculptures of the apostles are lined up. Other sculptures found inside are that of Christ and John the Baptist, and St. John the Evangelist. Above the Papal Altar is a golden baldachin which is believed to contain the heads of St. Paul and St. Peter.
Other notable attractions in this basilica include the massive apse decorated with sparkly mosaics, an incomplete Giotto Fresco, and a monument to Pope Sylveter which -- according to legend -- sweats and creaks to warn the people that a Pope will die soon.
On the left of the altar is the basilica’s cloister -- set around a garden, this majestic place offers peace and quiet to tourists and pilgrims who want to take time to reflect.