Rome, Italy

Area Sacra dell'Argentina, with the foundations of ancient temples, in the heart of Rome. Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Rome, the "Eternal City," has been a sacred place and internationally important city since ancient times. Rome's history extends nearly 2,800 years, during which time it has been the seat of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire, the Papal States, the Kingdom of Italy and the Italian Republic. The first known temple in Rome was built around 575 BC. A Jewish community was established in Rome in 161 BC and remains active today. Christians arrived in the 1st century AD, and Rome has been the center of Catholic Christianity ever since. Rome's abundance of ancient temples, synagogues, churches and shrines make it one of the best cities to explore the holy places of a variety of religious traditions.

This magnificent ancient temple was built by Emperor Hadrian in 125 AD and converted into a church in 609. It is the oldest intact ancient building in Rome.
Santa Prassede
A hidden gem near Santa Maria Maggiore, this 9th-century basilica has glorious Byzantine mosaics. Also here is a piece of the scourging column of Christ and other relics.
Santa Maria in Trastevere
This church is held to be the first place of Christian worship in Rome, built where a fountain of oil sprung up on the day of Christ's birth. Inside are many excellent mosaics.
Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
This interesting basilica incorporates the remains of the extensive Baths of Diocletian. Inside are works of medieval and modern art and an astronomical gnomon.
San Giovanni in Fonte
Also known as the Lateran Baptistery, this octagonal structure is the oldest baptistery in the world, built by Constantine in 315 AD.
Santa Costanza
This little round church was built c.360 AD to house the tombs of Constantine's daughter and sister. Its ceilings are covered in some of the earliest Christian mosaics in the world.
Domine Quo Vadis Chapel
This small chapel on the Appian Way marks the spot where St. Peter, fleeing persecution, saw the risen Christ and asked, Domine quo vadis? ("Lord, where are you going?").
Sant'Andrea della Valle
Founded by the Duchess of Amalfi, Sant'Andrea della Valle is a Baroque church with notable artistic treasures, opulence, and dramatic grandeur.
St. Peter's Basilica
For Roman Catholics, St. Peter's is the most sacred site after the Holy Land. It centers around the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle and is one of the largest churches in the world.
Sistine Chapel
This world-famous chapel painted by Michelangelo is still used for papal elections. Explore a complete photo gallery of its art as part of our article on the Sistine Chapel.