Rome Guided Tours

Christian Rome & Basilica Tour | Private

Discover Rome's major Christian basilicas and trace Christianity's role in shaping Roman (and Western) culture.

  • Availability

    On Request

  • Duration

    4 hours

  • Start time

    On Request

  • Private tour

    On Request

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Why Choose it?

  • Immerse yourself in history in the capital of Christianity.
  • Unlock the deeper meaning behind ancient and Christian symbols with your expert guide.
  • Customize your tour to visit one of Rome's atmospheric catacombs.

Tour description

Even before the emperor Constantine declared Christianity the Roman Empire's official religion, Christianity was making its imprint on Roman culture. The Roman State saw early Christians as a threat to the social status-quo. Their belief in one god went against the core values of Roman paganism, which favored the worship of multiple deities. For this the Christians were persecuted, fed to the lions in the Colosseum or scapegoated for certain disasters that affected the city, like the Great Fire in 64 AD.

But their redemption came in the fourth century when Constantine I converted to Christianity. The emperor's conversion brought about change which resulted in Christianity becoming the religion of the State. This tour takes us to some of Rome's oldest and most important ecclesiastical sites as we trace the mark Christianity has left. Accompanying you through Rome's most famous basilicas and holy sites, your private expert guide will deepen your knowledge about the important role Christianity has played in Rome through centuries. 

Our journey through Christian Rome begins at St. John Lateran 

The famous basilica in the heart of San Giovanni holds the throne of the Pope of Rome and offers a unique blend of different artistic styles. First built during the reign of Constantine (306 - 337 AD), the church you see before you now dates from the 16th century. It incorporates many relics from antiquity, however, such as its central doors which were taken from the Roman Forum's ancient Curia (Senate House).

Close to St. John Lateran are the famous Holy Stairs. Transported from the Holy Land to Rome in 326 AD, these were supposedly the steps up which Jesus climbed when going to face his trial by Pontious Pilate. Each year they attract thousands of Christians making their pilgrimages to different sites across Rome. 

Explore the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

The 13th-century church of Santa Maria Maggiore is a treasure trove of Christian treasures. The largest Catholic Marian church in the city, Santa Maria Maggiore is an extraordinary holy site. It houses some of Rome's most stunning apse mosaics depicting scenes from both the Old and New Testament and depicts a number of other important scenes from Christian history in its nave.

As well as this, Santa Maria Maggiore is home to a wealth of other artworks just waiting to be discovered. From miracle-working icons to relics like the Holy Crib and the impossibly ornate Altar of Sistine Chapel and Oratory of the Nativity, Santa Maria Maggiore is an essential visit for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the history of Christian Rome.  

Walk the original cobbles of the Old Appian Way

The Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) is Rome's most ancient road. Started in the 4th century BC, this road stretched from the capital to Brindisi in the south, facilitating transport all the length of central and southern Italy. A visit to the Appian Way gives you a chance to walk on its original cobbles.

You'll see the imprints left by countless wagon wheels over the centuries and walk along the road enjoying the peace and tranquility of the Roman countryside which, away from the hustle and bustle of the centre, seems unchanged for thousands of years. 

Customize the tour to visit a catacomb

Because of the threat of disease, the Romans prohibited burial within the city walls. Because of this, the Appian Way is lined with tombs and monuments to wealthy Romans who could afford ostentatious funerary relics. But it's not just what you see on ground level - it's also what lies beneath.

Running below and alongside the Appian Way are networks of catacombs - San Callisto, San Sebastiano, Domitilla, and the Jewish catacombs of 'Vigna Randanini'. Containing the remains of pagans, Christians, Jews, and even popes, the Roman catacombs are truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Depending which catacomb is open, we can visit one of them. If you would like to request a specific catacomb, however, please let us know so we can arrange it.

Your Christian Rome and Basilica tour can be fully customized 

We have more than 20 years of experience in organizing tours in Rome. If there is a certain basilica you would like to see or aspect of Christianity you would like to focus on, you are welcome to specify this to us. The tour can be extended with transportation so you can add the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the burial place of St Paul, and more.

included:

Licensed tour guide
Car and driver at disposal

itinerary:

  • Basilica of St. John Lateran
  • Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Holy Staircase
  • Old Appian Way
  • One Catacomb (Optional)

Wheelchair accessible:

Yes. (Itinerary may differ).

meeting point:

Hotel Lobby

see on map

excellent guides

Our guides are fluent in English and have a contagious passion for the inspiring cultural heritage of our Italian cities. Experts in their fields, they will immerse you in the hidden histories and intriguing lives of history's great protagonists. So much to see, so easy to miss out: with the help of our guides, visit the most absorbing sites and uncover the stories that have changed the world. Don't miss this fascinating journey!

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