Chiesa di San Nicola a Capo di Bove, Rome

1.7
#479 of 526 in Historic Sites in Rome
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Chiesa di San Nicola a Capo di Bove Reviews
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  • The history is interesting, and the location makes it impossible to miss if traversing the Appian Way. But, like the title says, there is not much left to see.  more »
  • This is a 14th century church associated with the Medieval fortress across the Via Appia. Today it is mostly an empty building, but the signage contains excellent English translations and tells the hi...  more »
  • In the early 1300s, Pope Boniface VIII, at the turn of the century Benedict Caetani, donated to some members of his powerful family the historic Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, along with the land around him. The funeral building (built in the second half of the 1st century BC to house the guise of the Roman patrician of the same name) consisted of a scythe cylindrical tower lined with marble slabs, resting on a square base. The tomb was now empty and the burial chamber had been looted for many centuries. However, the robustness of the structure, which at the time had just been scratched despite a thousand-three hundred years of neglect, and its strategic location on the Appian Way a few kilometers from Rome, were well lent to act as a linchpin to a fortress designed to defend the territory and send a tangible signal of power to your opponents. In fact, in a few years, the Caetans built around the Mausoleum the so-called "Castrum Caetani": a fortified residence here and there softened by small marble forks, surrounded by towers and sturdy walls with swallow-tail edine (called "ghibellina"). The top of the Mausoleum was also equipped with a crenellated belt, still visible today. Incidentally, the enrolment in the fortress proved to be conceive for the ancient tomb, because it preserved it from the dispossessions and destructions that in those centuries systematically fell upon all antiquities, without any consideration for their merit. On the opposite side of the Appian Way, probably to thank their illustrious representative to the papal church, the Caetans erected a large church that was named after St. Nicholas. The name "Chief of Bove" (which generally indicates this whole area) probably derives from the characteristic ornamental motifs present on the surface of the nearby mausoleum: the famous "bucrani" with which the Romans often decorated their monuments. The church was in Gothic style, with a Latin cross and aunique aisle, with deep rear asides. The facade, very sober, has on the left side a beautiful sail bell tower (obvious fruit of subsequent additions) and a circular hole above the entrance. The side walls are reinforced on the outside by the characteristic rampant reinforcements of many medieval churches; the opening of large ogival windows in the walls themselves that gave light to the church. The design of the building is perhaps attributable to the architect Tommaso de' Stefani, who was particularly active in Rome in those years. Over the centuries the roof has completely collapsed, the floor has disappeared and all the original furnishings have been lost. The church has consecrated, taking on the somewhat ghostly, but at the same time fascinating and mysterious, tints of a remote place that has sunk into oblivion. The castle, now reduced to a skeleton and almost completely uncovered, has suffered a similar fate. The Church of St. Nicholas and Castrum Caetani can be visited with the same access ticket as cecilia Metella's Mausoleum (at a cost of 5 euros, reduced 2.50) every day of the week from morning to evening; Closing time varies with the seasons depending on the daylight hours. In the covered spaces of the Castrum is a collection of statues, sarcophagi and other finds found along the Ancient Appian Way.
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