Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, St. Peter’s Basilica, Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore are the the only four Major Basilicas, all other churches called “Basilica” are Minor Basilicas.
Thanks to the fact that they are in the same city and remembering that one of the conditions for the Roman Jubilee Indulgence is to visit the Papal Basilicas, we strongly recommend to visit all of them!
If the time of your stay in Rome is too short we have planned a one day itinerary to discover the four highest-ranking Roman Catholic Churches.
This itinerary in Rome is totally free, only some areas of the basilicas are subjected to a small entrance fee!
To avoid problem at the entrance of the Basilicas dress with respect of God, it’s easy! Hats, skirts above the knees, sleeveless shirts, shirts which contain profanity, too much jewellery are forbidden such as the use of mobile phones and smoking.
Leave Martini Bed early in the morning and take the subway from Porta Furba Quadraro stop (buy a € 6 day ticket because you are going to take 5 times the metro), get off at San Giovanni… do you see the old Roman walls? Walk across them and discover the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano ( open everyday 7:00 AM – 6:30 PM ) on your left with it’s huge white facade by Alessandro Galilei (1735). On top of the façade is a marble group representing Christ with the cross between some holy bishops of the Church of the East and the West.
It’s still early and it’s time now to reach the next Major Basilica: Santa Maria Maggiore.
Leave Archbasilica of St. John Lateran behind and go to the left, on your right there is the Holy Steps and at the end of the street a big square (Piazza di Porta San Giovanni) in which there is a obelisk of red granite taller than 30m, perhaps the largest in existence. The obelisk was brought to Rome by Emperor Constantius II in 357.
Find bus 714 (Termini direction) and get off at S. Maria Maggiore stop.
The Papal Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore is open everyday from 7:00 AM to 6:45 PM (more infos about Holy Masses here ). Visit the church with calm (it’s huge, look here ! ) and once you are out start thinking something to eat! There are many restaurants, pizzerias and fast food in the area and since you have to reach Termini station to go to St. Peter’s Basilica you can find something on the way.
Termini area such as all big city’s central station is a big mix of different cultures, you can find any kind of food here: chinese, japanese, arabic, south american, Mc Donald’s and sometimes Italian too! We can recommend one of the oldest “kebabbaro” (Arabic restaurant) in Rome, Shawarma Station, it’s 300 mt far from the basilica, look this map.
Once in Termini take metro A direction Battistini and get off at Ottaviano station, walk 800 mt to Piazza San Pietro ( map here ) and spend some time in the square trying to find out a column not in line with the other ( find the “centro del colonnato” point on the ground! )
Ready for the last Basilica? If it’s too late you can start with San Paolo Basilica tomorrow, fox example before to visit Vatican Museums that are better to visit during lunch time because of less people inside. If you are still ok and want to proceed walk 500 mt to Piazza della Rovere and find bus 23, look the route here, get off at Ostiense/Efeso stop.
Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is open everyday from 7:00 Am to 6:30 PM.
To come back home reach the metro line B San Paolo, go to Termini and change with line A, reach Porta Furba stop, find something to cook or to warm up at home and reach Martini Bed where a comfy bed and a hot shower are waiting for you.