The Basilica of Saint Clement, the Colle Oppio & The Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains

The Basilica of Saint Clement, one of the oldest churches in Rome, not far from the Colosseum, is an example of what Rome is like: a palimpsest of layers of history. From Via San Giovanni we enter the church and find ourselves in a structure that dates back to the 12th century, built after the sack of Rome by the Normans in 1084. From here we descend into the underground to discover that underneath the actual church the previous church of the 4th century is still preserved with fresco paintings of the 9th and the 11th century. But not only: from this level we will climb even further down, to reach a roman house, and next to it a roman „insula “of the I and II centuries AD! These structures that included a sanctuary of the god Mithras had been buried, when the first church was built after the law of tolerance issued by Constantine in 313 AD. In the second part of the tour, we will climb the nearby Colle Oppio, today a green area that in the underground hides the remains of emperor Nero’s famous “Golden House”, and visit another of the early Christian churches: The Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains. It is named after the relics that belonged to the chief of the apostles who was imprisoned during the first persecution of the Christians under emperor Nero. The church is particularly attractive, since in the 16th century the funerary monument of pope Julius II was placed here. Michelangelo, to whom it had been commissioned, referred to it as „the tragedy of the tomb “, because he worked on it for 40 years. The most famous part of it is the statue of Moses. (Duration 3 hours, tickets need to be reserved.)