Though its Gothic architecture is unique to the Eternal City, it is the basilica’s art-rich interior that draws visitors. In addition to Michelangelo’s Cristo Risorto, the church is home to 15th-century frescoes by Filippino Lippi decorating the Carafa Chapel (Cappella Carafa), a funerary monument by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and a series of magnificent tombs, including those of Pope Paul IV, St. Catherine of Siena, and Fra’ Angelico, Dominican friar and painter. Because of its location near the Pantheon in the heart of Rome’s historic center, a stop at the basilica is often included on walking tours of Rome, especially those focusing on works by Michelangelo and other prominent Renaissance artists. Some Rome walking tours pair a cooking class with sightseeing, to experience both the city’s culture and cuisine in one day.
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Things to know before you go
- A visit to the basilica is a must for Renaissance art enthusiasts, especially Michelangelo fans.
- Modest attire that covers shoulders and knees is required to enter Rome’s churches.
- Comfortable shoes are recommended if visiting as part of a Rome walking tour.
- Photography without flash is allowed in the basilica, and photographers especially enjoy capturing the sumptuous interiors.
- The basilica is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to get there
The Basilica di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is located in Piazza della Minerva just north of Via di Pie di Marmo and a short walk from the Pantheon. The closest bus stop is Pie Di Marmo.
When to get there
The cool and quiet basilica interior is a welcome respite from Rome's midday heat and chaos around the Pantheon, so visit during the hottest hours of the day to contemplate the glorious art. Avoid visiting during the 6:00 p.m. Mass, when tourists are discouraged from lingering.
Michelangelo’s Cristo Risorto (Christ Bearing the Cross)
This sculpture depicting the risen Christ was completed by Michelangelo in 1521 and is carved from a single block of white marble. It was the artist’s second attempt, as a flaw in the marble used for the first version created a black line on the statue’s face. Because of this delay, a student of Michelangelo’s had to finish the work. The bronze drapery was added decades later to preserve Christ's modesty after the Council of Trent.
- Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola)
- Piazza della Rotonda
- Church of the Gesù (Chiesa del Gesù)
- Largo di Torre Argentina
- Oratorio di San Francesco Saverio del Caravita
- Basilica di Santa Maria in Via Lata
- Montecitorio Palace (Palazzo Montecitorio)
- Church of Saint Louis of the French (Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi)
- Catacombs of Rome (Catacombe di Roma)
- Madama Palace (Palazzo Madama)
- Column of Marcus Aurelius (Colonna di Marco Aurelio)
- Gladiator Museum
- Vittorio Emmanuele II Monument (Vittoriano)
- Piazza Navona