Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is the most important church in Rome’s sweeping Piazza del Popolo. With a 17th-century facade designed by Bernini, chapels by Bramante and Raphael, and museum-quality art by Pinturicchio and Caravaggio, Santa Maria del Popolo is highlight on any tour of Roman art treasures, architecture, or Catholic sights.
Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, one of three churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Piazza del Popolo, was rebuilt in the 15th century over a chapel erected in 1099. Gian Lorenzo Bernini reworked the facade in the 1650s, and stunning frescoes, mosaics, and paintings were added over the centuries to decorate the church and its ornate chapels.
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is a highlight of private and small-group tours focused on Rome’s artistic masterpieces of the 16th and 17th centuries, as it contains works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Carracci, and Bernini. Fans of author Dan Brown can join an Angels and Demons tour that visits Roman sites featured in his bestselling novel. Santa Maria del Popolo, one of Rome’s Augustinian basilicas, is also an important house of worship and included in most tours of the city’s Catholic landmarks.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Comfortable shoes are recommended, especially if you are visiting the basilica as part of a walking tour.
- Photography without flash is allowed inside the church.
- As in all of Rome’s churches, modest attire that covers shoulders and knees is required to enter.
- The basilica is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is located on Piazza del Popolo, one of the most important squares in Rome. You can reach the square by taking Metro line A and getting off at the Flaminio stop.
When to Get There
The cool and quiet interior of the church is a welcome respite from the heat and crowds in Piazza del Popolo in the summer, though the church closes for a few hours starting around midday on weekdays and Sundays (open all day Saturday). Tourists are not allowed to enter when Mass is being celebrated, so check the schedule carefully before planning your visit.
Angels and Demons in Rome
Rome was the setting of Dan Brown’s bestselling novel Angels and Demons, published in 2000 and inspired by the secret society known as the Illuminati. The book casts a number of Rome’s most important historic sights as plot points or backdrops for the mystery. Included are the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza Navona, and Castel Sant’Angelo.