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This austere building, designed by D. Fontana in 1586, served as the Papal residence, up until their exile to Avignon in 1308. It is now officially part of Vatican City.
This octagonal shaped structure, was originally built during the time of Constantine, then later renovated, in the 5th century under Sixtus III. Inside the centre enclosure, stands the baptismal font, surrounded by two rows of columns, which support the cupola. In the first of the four chapels, hangs an ancient bronze door, whose hinges emit a lovely sound, when it's opened.
San Giovanni in Laterano Basilica
This basilica was built on the property belonging to Plauzi Laterani, by Constantine, who in turn donated it to the Pope. This donation marked the beginning of the church's secular power. Damaged and rebuilt many times over the centuries, its present appearance is from a Borromini design (1646-1649). Whereas, the main fašade was last remodelled in 1735 by A. Galilei. The 15 statues of Christ and the saints, above the main entrance, symbolize the strength and power of the church. A series of five doors span the entrance portico. The beautiful bronze doors in the centre, decorated with stars; were originally installed at the entrance to the Senate offices (curia), located in the Roman Forum, and they date to the 1st century B.C.
The interior of the basilica is made up of five naves with a transept, from the Borromini design. The central nave is paved with beautiful mosaics from the Cosmati school. The apse is from the original Constantine construction, whole the magnificent wooden ceiling and the vast transept are from the 1500's. At the first pillar, on the right hand side of the middle nave, is a fresco, attributed to Giotto, depicting St. Boniface VIII, while announcing the first Jubilee. In the Massimo chapel stands a reproduction of the Black Madonna by Czestochowa, installed in 1978, to celebrate the election of John Paul II.
Don't miss the tomb of Riccardo degli Anniballi, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and refinished by Borromini. In the last chapel is the entrance to the 13th century cloister, by Vassaletto and son. The spiral columns were covered in mosaic tiles, to make them sparkle.
In a corner of San Giovanni piazza rises the Holy Stairway. It is said, that these stairs were originally in Pilate's palace. The faithful climb this stairway on their knees, just as Christ had done, to receive his judgemnment. At the top of the stairs is the Sanctum Sanctorum, or Pope's chapel which contains holy relics from Jerusalem. It's always closed, but through the grating, the lovely mosaic floors, in Cosmati style, are visible.
Wether of Rome