Before the Popes began officially residing in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Basilica of St. John Lateran was the Papal residence at the time when the Popes returned from exile in Avignon. The church started its construction in 313 A.D. and it had undergone through many renovations around the 16th and 17th century.
Famous architect Alessandro Galilei designed the wide façade of the church in 1735 which became a masterpiece of the Baroque period. The door of the Curia is made out of bronze, and the apse is made out of fine mosaics where it houses copies of early Christian documents. You can also enter a 13th century masterpiece called the Cloister. It was designed by Vassalletti also a famous Roman architect. You can also see the oldest octagonal baptistery in Christian history and in all of Europe called San Giovanni in Fonte. It was built during Constantine’s time.
Across the Pizza San Giovanni is the church of Scala Santa that contains a flight of 28 marble steps that is believed to be from Pontius Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem brought by St. Helen (Constantine’s mother) to Rome. Every year, Catholics climb these stairs on their knees to commemorate Christ’s Passion. You will also see the Egyptian obelisk inside the Piazza San Giovanni which is one of the tallest monuments in Rome.
You can find the St. John Lateran Church in Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano.
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