LENGTH

9-10 hours

Difficulty

Medium

Budget

Low

Route stops

  1. Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican

    Everything about the Basilica of St. Peter: history, art, the Pietà by Michelangelo, the dome and so many useful informations about opening hours, tickets and how to get there

  2. The Basilica of Saint John in the Lateran

    What to see in the Basilica of Saint John in the Lateran in Roma: history, description, architecture and opening hours to visit Borromini's masterpiece

  3. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

    Discovering the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore: history, legend, description and opening times of one of the most beautiful churches of Rome

  4. Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

    From the Tomb of the Saint to the portraits of the Popes. Here is what you can see in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls: history, mass times and address.

The extraordinary Holy Year of a Mercy anounced by Pope Francis on 13 of March 2015 will start on 8 December 2015, by the opening of the Holy Door of Saint Peter's and will end on 20 November 2016.

Since the 14th century, year of the first Jubilee convoked by Pope Boniface VIII, throughout the Holy Year plenary indulgence has been granted to the faithful going in pilgrimage to any of the four Papal Basilicas of Rome.

Visiting the four basilicas is much more than just a simple itinerary though... it is an unforgettable journey that will lead you to the discovery of priceless artworks, it is an itinerary of faith, art and cognition during which you will get in touch with centuries of history and culture.

DATES OF OPENING OF THE HOLY DOORS

Before starting, here is the programme for the Jubileo 2015 with the dates of opening of the Holy Doors of the Papal Basilicas. It will be useful if you intend to follow the whole itinerary throughout the Holy Year:

JUBILEE 2015: BASILICA OF SAINT PETER

The first stop of the itinerary can't be any other than the Basilica of Saint Peter. It is actually here where the first act of the Jubilee takes place, by the opening of the Holy Door by the Pope.

The suggestive square, together with Bernini's colonnade, works as a frame to the biggest church in Christianity, dominated by Michelangelo's majestic dome.

Basilica of Saint Peter

Basilica of Saint Peter

Before visiting it crossing the Holy Door, read our special article about the Basilica of Saint Peter and discover its history, its most important works of art, how to go up the dome and more useful information about opening times and tickets.

Getting there is a piece of cake! If you are coming to Rme by train, you will only have to get off at Roma San Pietro Station and from there go towards St. Peter's Square on foot (10 minutes) or take bus 64 from the station.

If you are already in Rome, you will only need to take metro line A and get off at stop Ottaviano.

JUBILEE 2015: BASILICA OF SAINT JOHN IN THE LATERAN

The Basilica of Saint John in the Lateran, considered the "mother of all churches" is the church of the Pope as Bishop of Rome. It is part of a great monumental complex including the great obelisk, the Lateran Palace and the Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs.

Considered one of Borromini's masterpieces, this splendid cathedral, established between 311 and 312 AD by Pope Miltiades, is located over the Celio Hill and it is beyond doubt an essencial destination for tourists and pilgrims from all over the world.

Getting there is as easy as taking metro linea A again direction Anagnina and after 9 stops getting off at San Giovanni.

The 13 December 2015, the opening of the Holy Door of the Basilica of Saint John will coincide with the symbolic opening of the holy doors in cathedrals worldwide.

A historic and innovative idea thanks to which Pope Francis means to decentralize the event, not limiting it only to Rome, but extending it to a local level.

Once outside the Basilica go to the Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs and to the Holy of Holies, the Pope's private chapel, considered today one of the most sacred places in the world.

Find out more about the Basilica reading this in-depth article!

Basilica of Saint John in the Lateran

Basilica of Saint John in the Lateran

JUBILEE 2015: BASILICA DI SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE

Now take again metro line A, this time towards Battistini and after 3 stops get off at Termini. From there, with a short 5-minute walk you will get to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, third stop of the itinerary.

Enclosed between Piazza dell'Esquilino and Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore, this imposing basilica is an absolute Early Christian masterpiece of art and architecture and you will be taken aback by the beauty of its mosaics, frescoes and sculptures.

The basilica is also known as "Saint Mary of the Snows", due to a legend linked to Pope Liberius according to which on the night of the 5th of August 352 A.D., Saint Mary appeared in dreams to the Pope and asked him to build a church where he would find snow the day after. That place is exactly on the Esquiline Hill.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the only one that has preserved its original form despite many decorative interventions. 

There are so many things to see in the interior of the church: from the splendid mosaics ornating the nave to those on the Trimphal Arch dating back to the 5th century, or even those on the Apse made by Torriti by commission of Pope Nicholas IV.

The floor in Cosmati style dates back to 1288 and the coffered ceiling gilded with gold is owed to Giuliano da Sangallo.

Also very impressive are the Main Altar, on the right of which is the tomb of great architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the Relics of the Sacra Culla (Holy Crib, the manger where Mary laid baby Jesus), the 13th-century Nativity scene and the Baptistery.

But the things to see don't end up here!

To find out more about the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, read this in-depth article, where you will find much more useful information for your visit.

Now turn back and get to metro stop Termini. This time, you will need to change line and take metro line B towards Laurentina to get oof after 6 stops at San Paolo, last stop of our journey.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore - Main Altar

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore - Main Altar

JUBILEE 2015: BASILICA OF SAINT PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS

A stone's throw away form the metro stop with the same name is the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, imposing church built where Saul of Tarsus was buried, and in which interior are kept also the sacred remains of the Saint.

Second in terms of size, only after the Basilica of St. Peter, the church houses many works of art, starting with the splendid quadriportico with the great statue of Saint Paul that will welcome you.

Inside you can admire the medallions representing the twelve apostles and some disciples of Saint Paul. In the above fascia stand out the splendid nineteenth-century mosaics, work also by Luigi Poletti, author of other works like the bell tower and the pronaos on the northern side.

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

In the fascia immediately above the archs that divide the naves are some mosaics containing the portraits of all Popes, from Saint Peter to Pope Francis. At the end of the nave on the right is the entrance to the Art Gallery, where many Early Christian works of art like sculptures, frescoes and tombs are exhibited.

In the wonderful cloister are preserved many architectonical pieces from the old basilica and findings from the close Ostiense necropolis. Read now the in-depth article about the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

Cloister of the Basilica of Saint Paul

Cloister of the Basilica of Saint Paul

Our journey finishes here... we recommend you to take it easy and visit the 4 Basilicas in one day, paying special attention to the extraordinary works of art that the churches house.

Don't forget that we are talking about masterpieces of prominent artists such as Michelangelo, Borromini and Giotto, just to mention some! If you wish to spend more days visiting the city, you are spoilt for choice!

Here are some travel tips for the upcoming Jubilee 2015:

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE JUBILEE

TOUR OT THE 7 CHURCHES OF ROME

VATICAN MUSEUMS: WHAT TO SEE?

SISTINE CHAPEL: MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI'S MASTERPIECE

ROME OF THE POPE: FROM SAINT PETER'S TO CASTEL SANT'ANGELO

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