There’s no shortage of awe-inspiring churches to visit in Italy. Whether you’re a fan of history, art, or simply want to take a stunning photograph, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Choosing the right ones to go to can be difficult, so here’s a guide to the top six churches in Italy.
1. Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo
Called a treasure trove for art lovers, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome is as good a place to start as any on your Italian journey. There’s works by the great Renaissance painters, including Caravaggio and Raphael. It’s over a thousand years old and has stood the test of time well. Take time to visit each of the seven chapels.
2. Santa Maria
In Rome’s Trastevere district, which is known for its nightlife and young, hip crowd, is one of the city’s oldest structures. The Santa Maria church dates back to 350 A.D. and the mosaics inside are over 800 years old. It has a collection of religious relics such as the head of St. Apollonia. After your visit, sit and admire the atmosphere at the fountain outside.
3. St. Peter’s Basilica
Another highlight of Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica has to rank as one of the most well-known churches in the world. Its large and imposing presence is an instantly recognizable marker of Rome. If you’re a fan of mosaics, this is the place to go as there’s over 100,000 square feet of them.
4. The Duomo of Milan
As much as St. Peter’s is identified with Rome, Milan’s most iconic place of worship (and tourist attraction) has to be the Duomo of Milan. It’s the fifth largest Christian church in the entire world. Look for the sundial on the floor near the main entrance. It’s been there since 1768 and you can set your watch by it, it’s that accurate. In fact, clocks throughout the city are set by this sundial.
5. St. Mark’s Basilica
In addition to its canals and boats, the city of Venice also has St. Mark’s Basilica, a grand example of Byzantine architectural splendor. This is the city’s official cathedral, and it stands majestically in St. Mark’s Square. In addition to the cupolas and ceiling mosaics, even the floor has intricate designs made of both mosaic and marble.
6. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
If the churches have to be ranked, the Frari Church has to be the second best in Venice. Like the Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo, art is the highlight here. The unassuming exterior of this church is completely the opposite of the famous works inside, such as Donatello’s John the Baptist.
To make the most of your visit, take the best photos you can. When taking shots of the churches in Italy, remember that often flash photography is not permitted. Instead of trying to capture an entire church, you can try to get the details. Whether it’s a window or a cupola, get up close and personal with the church’s beauty.