Basilica di San Clemente - PHOTOGRAPHER COMMENT
Panorama taken inside the Basilica San Clemente church in Rome. I very nearly walked right past this church - it really is hidden behind a small door. The only thing that gave it away was the old lady begging for money be the door. Coming in from the 35C heat to a cool basilica was very refreshing.
Basilica di San Clemente - FURTHER INFORMATION
Basilica di San Clemente - Rome visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Basilica di San Clemente' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Roma.
Basilica San Clemente church stands hidden half way between the Colosseum and on Via San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome, very close to Santi Quattro Coronati church. The door to the church is on the left as you walk up the road from the Colosseum. It is easy to pass San Clemente without much of a second thought as the entrance is inconspicuous with a plain façade and set into a bland wall. The first church here dates from 4C. It was burned down in by the Normans and then rebuilt in 1108. Since 1667 the Irish Dominicans have been the caretakers of the Basilica di San Clemente after being outlawed and evicted from Britain.
The Basilica di San Clemente has both an upper and lower church. The entrance from the road leads directly into the main basilica. Off to the right is a door that leads to a pleasant courtyard or quadroporticus, one of the few remaining in Rome, in which concerts are sometime held. The ceiling of the main basilica is with the Triumph of St Clement, and in the center of the nave stands the choir stalls, as seen here in the picture. This also contains the Schola Cantorum which originally was found in the lower church. Behind this you can just see a baldacchino. The apse and area around the altar is packed with 12C mosaics, most obvious here are the 12 companions and Lamb of God that follow the curve. Above these are symbols of aspects of Christianity.
Off to the right, at the end of the aisle, is the chapel of St. John the Baptist which contains a 16C statue by the same name. Both this and the other chapels in the church contain numerous frescoes and paintings throughout the ages.
If all this history was not enough, the lower church holds yet more, though to see it you will need to pay an entrance fee from the shop on the far side of the basilica. The lower church is down some steps and you descend to a frescoed narthex dating from the late 1C. There is an inscription here indicating that this was the property of T.Flavius Clemens. It may have at one time been part of a home that functioned as a meeting place for Christians, a common practice in early Christianity. Some frescoes and other works of art here are over 1,600 years old.
The first basilica was built here over a Mithraeum, a shrine to Mithras, a god popular with the Roman Army but fell out of favor during the time of Constantine. The Mithraeum is still accessible, as are parts of other walls and structures also dating from the 1C. Building over a Mithraeum was not unique, Santa Prisca, south of the Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo), is also built over a Mithraeum.
Basilica di San Clemente
Via San Giovanni in Laterano at Piazza San Clemente,
TRAVEL DIRECTIONS AND GETTING THERE
Metro: Colosseo (B), Manzoni (A)