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Battistero Lateranense, Rome

4.8
#135 of 527 in Historic Sites in Rome
The domed octagonal Lateran Baptistery stands somewhat apart from the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome, to which it has become joined by later construction. This baptistery was founded by Pope Sixtus III in 440, perhaps on an earlier structure, for a legend grew up that Constantine the Great had been baptized there and enriched the structure. However it is more likely that if he was baptized it was in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire and possibly by an Arian bishop. This baptistry was for many generations the only baptistery in Rome, and its octagonal structure, centered upon the large octagonal basin for full immersions, provided a model for others throughout Italy, and even an iconic motif of illuminated manuscripts, "The fountain of Life".
Around the central area, where is the basin of the font, an octagon is formed by eight porphyry columns, with marble Corinthian capitals and entablature of classical form. On the ceiling of the Baptistry is the story of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312). An ambulatory surrounds the font and outer walls form a larger octagon. Attached to one side, towards the Lateran basilica, is a fine porch with two porphyry columns and richly carved capitals, bases and entablatures.
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Battistero Lateranense Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
73 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • A small walk from the plaza where the Laterranese baptized obelisk is located, and the brick-and-brick Baptist chapel on the edge of the square is round or octagonal, with octagonal marble and paintings of various coloured marbles and mosaics.
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  • It is probably the first baptistry of this type to have been built, and which served as a model for successive Baptists built in the Middle Ages, such as florence or Parma, etc. Initially built by Constantine himself, it was then remade in the 5th century, keeping the original octagonal plant, but the current appearance, which still preserves the plant of the 5th century, is essentially that of the Baroque makeover. It was built on a pre-existing spa and traces of the previous Roman construction can be seen in the chapel of San Venanzio. Externally it can be misled because it is not as flashy as other famous baptistries (just remember the one of Pisa or the one already mentioned in Florence): made in simple bricks of bricks, presents as the only artistic element the frieze made by the Borromini and running high around the perimeter of the baptistry. Entering, however, there appears a beautiful interior, both for the double order of columns surrounding the Baroque baptismal fountain, and for the frescoes (the large ones of the walls portray episodes of Constantine's life), and for the ceiling decorations, with friezes polychrome statues. The visit must then be completed with that of the 2 chapels (the one of St. John could be closed, being used today as a sacrisity) and that of the atrium, equally beautiful structures, with mosaics, statues, paintings, cenotaphs, etc. they perform baptisms (in ns/visit we met one) and entry is free.
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  • baptistry hidden behind the church of St. John in the lateran. to see and let go of beauty.
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Google
  • This is a very beautiful place. So small, so full of art. Around the central area with the basin of the font, an octagon is made by eight porphyry columns. On the ceiling is the story of the battle of the Milvian bridge. (312).
  • Great ! Have the fortune to have it just for ourselves at closing time !
  • Very unique small piece of architecture. Very different than how children are baptized in America.
  • An ancient baptistery where it is believed that Emperor Constantine was baptized?
  • Inside this ancient baptistry, I was surprised that you can light electric candles and offer your prayers.
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