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You are in: Home » Culture and leisure » Historic places of worship » Catholic Churches » Chiesa Santa Maria del Popolo
Typology: Parish Church, Small Basilica


Address: Piazza del Popolo, 12
Zone: Rione Campo Marzio (P.Spagna-P.Popolo-Pincio) (Roma centro)


Opening times

For the timetable of the masses and visiting conditions, please consult the contacts.

Unique Guided tour of the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo available in English.
For information, prices and booking, please ask at the bookshop inside the church,
phone +39 3923612243



Scheduled events


Santa Maria del Popolo is one of the most significant buildings of the Roman Renaissance, not only for its architectural features, but also for the paintings and sculptures it houses. The church arose from a small chapel built at the behest of Pope Paschal II at the expense of the Roman people (hence the name) over the tombs of the Domitians. It was probably built as thanksgiving for the conquest of Jerusalem at the conclusion of the First Crusade. Rebuilt in the 15th century at the time of Pope Sixtus IV, it was modified in the 17th century and is associated with the names of Bramante, Sansovino, Pinturicchio, Mino Da Fiesole, Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio. By the latter are The Conversion of St. Paul and The Crucifixion of St. Peter, which together with Annibale Carracci's Assumption adorn the Cerasi Chapel, to the left of the high altar.

The Church
The three-nave, Latin cross-vaulted interior displays the sober and proportionate layout of the Cistercian churches. There are numerous tomb slabs in the floor, dating from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The chapels abound in funerary monuments and works of art. Of these, the most important is the Chigi Chapel, the second on the left, built to a design by Raphael for the banker Agostino Chigi starting in 1513 and only finished between 1652 and 1656 with the intervention of Gianlorenzo Bernini at the behest of Pope Alexander VII Chigi. Raphael made the cartoons for the mosaics of the dome (God the Father Creator of the firmament and the Symbols of the sun and the seven planets) for the chapel, executed by Luigi Pace in 1516, and the design for the pyramid tombs of Agostino Chigi and his brother Sigismondo, later executed by Lorenzetto, Raffaello da Montelupo and Bernini with some modifications. The statue of Jonah emerging from the whale was also made by Lorenzetto to a design by Raphael, while Habakkuk and the angel and Daniel in the lions' den are the work of Bernini. The altarpiece is instead the work of Sebastiano del Piombo and Salviati.

Cerasi Chapel: Caravaggio
The first chapel in the left transept, near the altar, houses two masterpieces by Caravaggio: the Crucifixion of St. Peter, painted around 1601, and the Conversion of St. Paul, from the same period. The two canvases, painted in oils, were commissioned from Caravaggio in September 1600 by Tiberio Cerasi, Pope Clement VIII's treasurer, who had purchased a chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. Annibale Carracci was instead entrusted with the altarpiece depicting the Assumption of the Virgin. The death of Cardinal Cerasi, before Caravaggio completed the two works, created serious problems for the artist: the executors of Cerasi's will, the priors of the Ospedale della Consolazione, were not at all satisfied with Caravaggio's work, evidently judging its impact too strong. The artist was therefore forced to paint a new version of the two canvases, which nevertheless retain an enormous strength and present a series of incredibly innovative stylistic solutions. First of all, the choice of the visual angle, in both paintings very narrow and defined by the perspective of large masses: the horse seen from behind in the Conversion; the four bodies of the characters in the Crucifixion. Caravaggio exalts himself in the pictorial description of materials and light. But what strikes, above all, is the humanity of the various characters represented, not only that of the two saints: no heroism or transfiguration, but a scene of life described with tragic realism.


The church is certified HERITY http://www.herity.it/33596-a.html

Last checked: 2022-09-05 9:46