Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right Italy icon-chevron-right Rome icon-chevron-right San Giovanni in Laterano

San Giovanni in Laterano

Attractions, Religious buildings and sites
San Giovanni in Laterano

The Catholic faithful earn indulgences for visits to this vast, impersonal, overdecorated basilica.

The Catholic faithful earn indulgences for visits to this major basilica. Along with the Lateran palace, it was the site of the original papal headquarters until the move across the river to St Peter’s and the Vatican during the 14th century. Constantine’s second wife, Fausta, gave the plot of land to Pope Melchiades to build the papal residence and church in 313. There are few traces of the original basilica, which was destroyed by fire, earthquake and barbarians. It has been heavily restored and reconstructed: the end result is a vast, impersonal, overdecorated hangar. The façade, with its 15 huge statues of Christ, the two Johns (Baptist and Evangelist) and 12 Doctors of the Church, is part of the 1735 rebuilding by Alessandro Galilei. The interior bears the stamp of Borromini, who transformed it in 1646. A few treasures from earlier times survive: a much restored 13th-century mosaic in the apse, a fragment of a fresco attributed to Giotto (hidden behind the first column on the right) showing Pope Boniface VIII announcing the first Holy Year in 1300, and the Gothic baldacchino over the main altar. Off the left aisle is the 13th-century cloister, with delicate twisted columns and fine cosmatesque work by the Vassalletto family. A small museum off the cloister contains papal vestments and some original manuscripts of music by Palestrina. 

By: Time Out editors


Venue name: San Giovanni in Laterano
Address: Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano, 4
00184 Roma RM, Italy
Opening hours: Church 7am-6.30pm daily. Baptistry 7.30am-12.30 pm, 4-6.30pm daily. Cloister 9am-6pm daily. Museum 10am-5.30pm daily.
Transport: Metro San Giovanni
Static map showing venue location
1 person listening