Roman Adventure – Basilicas

Visiting Basilicas in Rome.

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

If you visit Rome, you’re going to visit some basilicas.

Basilica – a large oblong hall or building with double colonnades and a semicircular apse, used in ancient Rome as a court of law or for public assemblies.

Most of the basilicas in Rome are Catholic Churches, and they are everywhere. The largest of course is the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City the largest church in the world. The size and splendor or St. Peter’s is beyond description, and pictures just do not do it justice. But there are countless smaller, but also awe inspiring basilicas scatters throughout Rome. If you see one and the doors are unlocked, it’s definitely worth a look.

This is us in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Under the main dome at St. Peter’s Basilica. The Statue of Liberty would fit under this dome. The size is just staggering. The letters in the gold band just above the columns are over 7′ tall.

Large Baroque sculpted bronze canopy, technically called a ciborium or baldachin, over the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica

Travel tips for visiting basilicas. Basilicas are considered sacred sites, your silence is expected. Hats should be removed. Most have signs prohibiting shorts or mini skirts, as well as sandals and tank tops. Basically they expect conservative dress. Also before taking picture, make sure there are no signs prohibiting photography. And if photography is allowed you should refrain from taking pictures if mass is in session. Most of the basilicas we visited allowed photography, but most had some portion of the interior where photography was not allowed. Basically check everywhere for signs before taking pictures.

Most basilicas have places where you can light a candle and say a prayer, they have conveniently placed candles usually next to an offertory, a donation is suggested. If you don’t see a suggested donation amount, .50 euro piece is a good place to start.

If the church has a prized piece of art or statue, it will usually not be lighted very well. If you notice this, look around, there  usually is a machine somewhere close by that you can put some money in and the lights will come on. They stay on for a few minutes, long enough to get some good picture. I guess they have to make money somehow, the overhead on a building like that has got to be high.

Walking into one of these Basilicas is an amazing and indescribable feeling. These buildings have been around for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. The architecture is amazing, the art is incredible. The atmosphere is awe inspiring. I had mixed emotions about the whole experience. We would usually walk in and just stand and stare for a bit, take a couple pictures, then sit down and just contemplate our existence. My conflict came from my deep seated conviction that we, as Christians, should spend money on helping the poor, bringing relief to the suffering. And here I was sitting in a building that was probably built using unimaginable amounts of money, sometime with slave labor, and with poor and starving people within walking distance. At the same time, I could not sit there and look at the beauty represented around us, all pointing to the glory of God and Christ, without feeling awe for my savior.  Sitting there I understood why they spent the money to create such awe inspiring buildings. You can not see these things without contemplating God, they draw your focus to Him, which is a great thing. So I’m still conflicted, but I also feel greatly blessed for having the opportunity to see these fantastic tributes to my savior.

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