Located in the heart of the Eternal City of Rome, outside the Vatican City, the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome used to be the seat of the pope and a Church that you may have already heard of under a different name. This Basilica is, in fact, mostly referred to by the name we mentioned before but its actual name is quite long and it’s “the Archbasilica Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran”. Nowadays, this Basilica is a core element of Rome’s Catholic journey and it is definitely worth a visit.
Let’s find out something more about the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome and why you should add it to your itinerary!
A Glimpse into Rome’s Christian Legacy
First created in the IV century AD in honor of St. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran is one of the oldest Churches in the city of Rome. Back in the Middle Ages the land that the Basilica was edified on belonged to the Laterni Family up until the time they were accused by Nero of being against Emperor Constantine. A palace was then built on this land and it was later donated to the Catholic Church by Constantine. During this time it became the residence of the Pope.
Many people don’t know that this basilica was almost destroyed by earthquakes twice but most of it managed to survive and everything that had to be rebuilt was made according to the original Church.
St. John Lateran: Rome’s Oldest Basilica and Its Storied Past
As previously mentioned, the Cathedral was built in honor of St. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. These two are obviously the Saint John that the name of the Church refers to. Now that you know a little bit of the history behind the creation of this Church, you may imagine that the word “Lateran” comes from the Laterani Family, who owned the land that the basilica was edified.
The Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome used to be the official residence of the pope between the IV and the XIV century but, unfortunately, a series of earthquakes almost destroyed the Basilica twice, leading the Pope to move to Avignon in France. Once the seat of the pope was moved back to Italy, the Lateran Palace was replaced with St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, which you can explore through our Saint Peter’s Basilica Group Tour. The Lateran Palace remained though the seat of the bishop of Rome.
Exploring the Baroque Beauty : Interior of Saint John Lateran
The Basilica of Saint John Lateran is characterized by a baroque façade made by Alessandro Galilei. It presents 15 statues that depict different characters of the Catholic Church, including, of course, Saint John Baptiste and Saint John the Evangelist. The interior of the Church is made in Baroque style and it was designed by Francesco Borromini who was commissioned a big renovation by Pope Innocent X in 1650 for the Jubilee.
Right outside the Basilica, you will also be able to find an ancient Christian Baptistery and in Piazza San Giovanni Laterano, you will also be able to see the Lateran Obelisk.
Plan Your Visit: Essential Information
The Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran is located near the Vatican City, which we suggest you explore through a private tour of the Vatican’s wonders. The Basilica can be easily reached from the Termini Station, it is more precisely located towards the San Giovanni stop on Metro A. It is open from 07:00 AM to 06:30 PM every day. If you want to go in-depth about visiting the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, we highly suggest you book a private tour with us!
Visiting the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran in Rome is a great way to get to know more about the ancient Catholic culture in the Eternal City. If you want to get to know more about Italy in general and the city of Rome, make sure you check out our other blogs and book a private tour with us for the best experience possible!