Basilica dei Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti

Rome is a city of opulence and overload when it comes to historical sights and churches. You will, as I was, get swept away by the grandeur of things like the Colosseum and the Vatican. They are exceptionally cool; But you should not overlook the hidden gems.

The facade of the Basilica dei Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti in Rome

One of those gems is the Basilica dei Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti. A basilica hidden away in a rather unremarkable street near the Colosseum. You’d easily overlook it if you weren’t looking for it.

When you enter, you are greeted by a beautiful church with three levels. The main level where you enter is home to the pews. Slightly higher up sits the altar with an amazing dome with paintings and reliefs. There is also a lower level, which was used at the time of writing as a place to display art of local artists.

The main area of the Basilica dei Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti.

So far you’d think this is one more of Rome’s list of amazing churches. And it is. But there is something hidden underneath this church: an early christian church. You can access this church through a door on the left side of the church, which takes you down into the basement.

A sloped pathway from the basilica gives access to the early christian church under the Basilica dei Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti

The church in the basement dates back to around 300 AD. You will notice that this space is not exactly built like a church that we know today. This is probably because this space wasn’t meant to be a church, but as a commercial space or home. Most murals are faded, but you can still make out classic christian images.

The early christian church (dated around 300 AD) in the basement of the Basilica dei Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti.

This church is something special, and from the outside you wouldn’t know it. As a consequence, you won’t find many tourists here. You can visit this church for free, and I would recommend you do so.

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More detailed information about the church and its history can be found here.

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