Santa Maria Antiqua opens to the public after 30 years Tours

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The basilica, located on the Palatine Hill near the Colosseum, is now open to visitors again. The building was abandoned after the 847 AD earthquake. The original icon of the Virgin Mary had been hidden underground for twelve centuries.

Santa Maria Antiqua opens to the public again after 30 years. The spectacular basilica was discovered by Giacomo Boni in 1900 on the slopes of the Palatine Hill. Now, after a complex restoration work, it is now open to visitors: the work involved the building itself, restoration of paintings and frescoes which represent a “unique example of the Christian world of the first millennium“.

The Basilica dates back to a period between the 6th and 9th centuries, when it was abandoned after several portions of the building collapsed, due to the earthquake of 847 AD.

A special exhibition was set to initiate the new life of the church, which in the meantime had been open to visits just for limited periods of time, through guided tours to the archaeological site. “Santa Maria Antiqua between Rome and Byzantium” has been chosen as the main theme of the opening, which will see the public visiting the Basilica and new pieces of art which will tell the history of this monument, which is considered “an exceptional evidence of the developing of Roman painting and of all the Greek-Byzantine world of the Early Middle Ages, before the iconoclasm removed all traces of the holy images of those times“.

At the entrance of Santa Maria Antiqua portraits of the kings ruling during the foundation of the Church had been displayed, including the so called “group of Empress Ariadne and Amalasuntha, daughter of Theodoric“.

Other gems displayed in the exhibition include a Mosaic of the 8th century, commissioned by Pope John 7th, which portraits the Adoration of the Magi. The work of art has been restored to its original splendour, thanks to the intervention of the Institute for Preservation and Restoration.For other images of the spectacular Basilica of Santa Maria Antiqua you can visit the Gallery of the European Pressphoto Agency.

If you want to visit the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum, including the Basilica of Santa Maria Antiqua you can book a guided tour with Journeys to Italy: a professional English-speaking guide will be at your disposal for a 3 hours tour of the area, which includes skip-the-line tickets! Write an email to for more information or to book your tour.

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