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Basilica of San Clement – Rome

Rome - St Clement - mosaic
Rome - St Clement - mithreumRome - St Clement - frescoRome - St Clement - facade

Close to the Colosseum in Via Labicana the 12th century Basilica of San Clemente dedicated to Pope Clement I demonstrates how the Eternal City was built, layer after layer.

The history of this church is very fascinating. The actual Basilica was built during the Middle Ages (1100) on top of a 4th-century church that was constructed out of a Roman nobleman’s home, which, previously, was developed on top of first-century Roman buildings destroyed in the Great Fire of 64 AD.

The ancient church was used since the 1st century as a clandestine Christian place of worship. After the Catholic Church grew in power and popularity it was transformed in a Basilica.

At the end of the 17th century when England outlawed the Irish Catholic Church Pope Urban VII granted refuge here to the Irish Dominicans.

Things to see

The Basilica of San Clement is amongst the most opulently decorated churches in Rome.

The main entrance is across a beautiful atrium today used as a cloister.

The Façade designed by Fontana in 1719 is supported by antique columns. Many marble pieces of the antique basilica were used during the restoration of the church.

The richly decorated ceiling, stucco décor, Ionic capitals and frescoes that are possible to admire today were also added by Fontana. The amazing mosaics of the apse are otherwise an example of Roman 12th century mosaics.

In the lower levels some of the most impressive fragments of ancient Roman houses can be clearly seen.