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Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome
(4.6/5 based on 240+ reviews on the web)
An off-the-beaten-path church in Rome, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere stands atop the former home of a wealthy woman martyred in the 3rd century. The exact story of Santa Cecilia's life and martyrdom is unclear, but she likely lived from 175 to 250 CE. Inside the church, discover the statue underneath the altar, which depicts the martyr's body exactly as it was found in 1599 after exhumation. If you look closely you'll notice the three severe axe cuts in her neck, modelled accurately by sculptor Stefano Maderno who was present when the tomb was opened, and whose promise to record the body as found reads on a marble slab in front of the statue. The relatively bland exterior of the church hides the graphic recreation of Cecilia's body, as well as mosaics, murals, and impressive columns. Venture below the church to tour the remains of Cecilia's Roman home. Plan your visit to Santa Cecilia in Trastevere and a wealth of other attractions, well-known and undiscovered, using our Rome vacation planner.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • We visited Saint Cecelia's Basilica today and loved it. My wife's name is Celia, so this was on the travel plan for us. It takes a little work to find it as it is tucked away on a small street in Tras...  more »
  • In the trastevere area towards porta portese there is this beautiful square great for the area and you don't expect. The basilica and the buildings overlooking the square. In the immediate vicinity of the Genoese Church. Good restaurants in the area even in the same square board "Roma sparita" also a pizzeria with outdoor seating, weather permitting.
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  • Once you enter, you find almost breathlessly and lies deep beneath the high altar. She's a little girl or so, skinny, slim, small small. The head is in an unnatural position (as if death which is matter of course, in this particular case it wasn't at all), pressed against the base of the glass case. Offers the viewer a view of neck severed. Immortalized in the last feeble hands twitch before death, they still have a few fingers bent. On his head, a handkerchief, his shroud covers the hair and hides the last glimpse of the young martyr. According to legend, Santa Cecilia had paid in this way his clandestine faith in Jesus Christ came from a remote, peripheral and turbulent Eastern Province of the Roman Empire and died on the cross three hundred years before. From that moment on that little girl's body battered, the followers of the new Christian religion had started to deposit flowers, prayers and tears, turning an innocent corpse into a relic. In the middle ages, then, Pope Paschal I did translate the mortal remains of Cecilia (found perfectly intact) from the catacombs of San Callisto, outside the walls, to a secluded monastery on the other side of the Tiber, in Trastevere area which at the time was occupied by vegetable gardens and monasteries surrounded by high walls. It was at this time that the Holy child was assigned a particular fondness for music and, accordingly, protective action taken in respect of all musicians. Preference which, however, is not reflected in the lives and passions of the young, but rather seems to be the result of a mistranslation of the chants that preceded the telling of his story. Around here, however, does not come with the entrancing desire to sparigliare the cards of faith and saints. It is especially to stand in front of the main altar, admiring the tender marble statue that depicts dead already, undisputed masterpiece by Stefano Maderno. He had been given the task, at the end of the sixteenth century to carve Cecilia at the exact location where it was found eight centuries after his move from the catacombs, still without any signs of decay, intact. And it was this fact that miraculous to convince the Pope to restore the Church, also in view of the Jubilee of 1600. It is precisely at this time that we need to think once inside, if you can take your eyes from the high altar and the sculpture of Maderno. Once the load of wonder and poetry aroused by the best known work of the Church, then, you can leave the power of place, the charm of secluded chapels, to the many signs that reveal the sacredness of this basilica: Arnolfo di Cambio's ciborium of 1293, right above the statue, a 13th century fresco on the bottom of the right aisle that tells the torment of Cecilia , Baroque paintings in the left, which helps keep the thread of a story otherwise too old. A past that resurfaces a few metres below, in the crypt, where you get past a vast subterranean archaeological area with the remains of a patrician domus and insula. There, among the remains of tanks intended for the collection of food and antique flooring, you wander around enjoying the few known references (a remnant column, a stone tub), peeking occasionally upward, where a hole connecting the upper Church universe with the bottom edge of the excavations, framing the eighteenth-century fresco that decorate the vault. If there is a desire for elevation, what takes the visitor on this exact point of the archaeological site, then we might as well satisfy it. Just get to the surface, leave the Church, pausing a moment to contemplate the garden behind the columns of the main entrance designed by Ferdinando Fuga in the eighteenth century that acts as a lobby and then knock on the door of the convent of the Benedictines. It is from here that you can access the nuns ' choir, who's looking down the nave, but this is invisible, hidden as it is by a lattice. On the walls of this room are some figures of a very ancient fresco, the most exalted of pre-art of Giotto in Rome. Are only visible a long stretch behind the benches of the sisters and a few scattered on the side walls as well as face a colossal navel of Archangel that stands out above the front door, but the painting has not lost one iota of power and strength of the stroke. Each character has its own precise expression, made all the more vivid by the body movement and three-dimensionality of the wings of Angels is represented with an innovative technique. It is a work that impresses by its modernity, for its being artistic avant-garde of an era in which it was hard to leave the fixity of the figures and the bidimensionalita '. Go back downstairs after witnessing this Symphony of shapes and colors will be complicated. In the nuns ' choir of Santa Cecilia is very easy to leave a piece of heart. It goes away with the regret of not being able to admire the Archangel Michael in his colossal original dimensions, noting that the weather has been targeting much more about fresco by Carroll that the corpse of the Holy child whom the Church is dedicated. You go away thinking that music has the power to abduct, exactly like the basilica dedicated to a martyr of the seven notes that little girl almost certainly didn't know about it.
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  • Beautiful basilica dedicated to St Cecilia, patron saint of music. A nun was playing the organ when we were there - very atmospheric. Peaceful with not too many tourists. Closed at 1pm and not open again until 4.30pm.
  • Enjoy the beautiful statue of St. Cecilia under the main altar. The excavations below are also interesting from an archeological point of view as they tell us about urban development of the time. The chapel under the altar is majestic.
  • Enter scavi through gift shop at north transept to see ruins of a 2nd century house. Also moving marble statue of saint cecilia.
  • Exquisite site to visit regardless of whether or not music / musicians are a part of your life. The original church in the vaults is stunning, dating back to early early Christians in Rome. The statue of St Cecilia's miraculously preserved body is at the front of the altar, and worth pondering over whilst remembering that there is little dispute that she existed and was buried here (her religious story is less certain).
  • Beautiful basilica in the heart of Trastevere