Virtual Tour

Explore the past centuries of Rome’s history in one extraordinary complex of buildings

Level 1 at 360°

The Upper Basilica

The Upper 12th century Basilica

Our tour begins in the upper 12th century Basilica where one is immediately struck by the Mosaic of the Apse and the wonderful pavement, with its great variety of ancient Roman marble, carved into a wonderful pattern of Cosmatesque work. In the centre of the church there is the unusual marble choir. Though the choir in its present form, with two ambos for the readings and twisted column for the paschal candle, is medieval, the panels of the choir were carved in Constantinople in the 6th century. Here in the 12th century basilica we see side chapels of different periods, the most famous being that of St Catherine where we witness the dawn of the Renaissance in the work of the 15th century Masolino da Panicale.

Level 2 at 360°

The Lower Basilica

The Lower 4th century Basilica
This lower basilica, with its central nave and two side aisles was abandoned and filled with rubble during the 12th century, becoming the foundation of the new basilica above. The plan of the original basilica is not immediately evident as today the space is divided by the 12th century foundation walls of the upper basilica and obscured somewhat by the pillars and vaulting built to support the upper basilica during the 19th century excavations. However, on the original walls of the church we have one of the greatest collections of medieval frescoes in the world. In these frescoes of the 8th, 9th and 11th century we have a unique testimony to the art and history of the faith of medieval Rome. Here we see the 8th century byzantine style, Ascension and Anastasis frescoes of the 9th century and the wonderful series of 11th century frescoes, one of which depicts “the legend of Sisinnius” with its example of early written Italian.
Level 3 at 360°

First Century Buildings

First Century Buildings

Descending an ancient staircase in the north aisle we enter an area which seems to be a real labyrinth. At the bottom of the staircase we find ourselves in a domus or Roman house. The lowest level, to which the present access steps lead, was a semi-interred area with a cryptoporticus or underground gallery and a vaulted cave-like area. This area was transformed into a temple complex by the followers of the Mithraic religion. Leaving this Roman house we cross a small alley. We now find ourselves inside a more grandiose, rectangular structure built of large blocks of tufa. This building consisted of a central courtyard surrounded by a series of simple, cell-like rooms with Roman concrete vaults and herringbone floors. Current research suggests that it was part of the imperial mint, which is known to have been established in this area in the first century.