Santa Maria Maggiore

We probably should have visited Santa Maria Maggiore when the weather was like this … VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

(That’s only the back, by the way, but it was a view we had just by taking a few steps from our hotel’s front door!)

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

Instead on the day we visited, we were greeted with darker, more ominous skies that later saw a deluge washing down the Esquiline Hill, the hill on whose summit this particular basilica sits, and has done since at least the 5th Century.

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

The church has obviously been added to since then, right up to the door that’s a 20th Century addition..

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

to the statue of benefactor Philip IV (of Spain) that was cast  by Bernini ( who I think is buried here), and completed by Girolamo Lucenti.VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

And inside the styles are varied, but what hit me most on this otherwise gloomy day was the gold that had originally been bought back (apparently) by Christopher Columbus from the “New World” and given by Ferdinand and Isabella to pope Alexander VI to decorate this space…

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

The opulent theme extends into both the baptistery and side chapels…

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

That contrasts with the geometric simplicity of the  mosaic floors laid by the Cosmati family in the 13th Century…

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

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