Sant'Andrea Della Valle

The Sant'Andrea Della Valle Basilica is one of the many Rome attractions that visitors won't want to miss. A baroque gem of a church, it is magnificent both inside and out and exudes a true sense of grandeur. Rising up behind the dazzling facade is a large dome that is among the largest in the city. Once inside, visitors are greeted by a breathtaking mix of marble columns, old frescoes, gold leaf accents, and ornate carvings. There is a lot to take in, and the fact that admission is free only makes a visit that much more tempting.

In 1582, the then Duchess of Amalfi, Donna Costanza Piccolomini d'Aragona, chose to leave Rome. Her desire was to retire to a convent in the coastal city of Naples, and among the things that she left behind were a mansion and a church. Both of these were bequeathed to the Theatines religious order with the stipulation that a new church be built on the site. This new church would honor the patron saint of Amalfi, Sant'Andrea (Saint Andrew). Thus the notion of the Sant'Andrea Della Valle Basilica was born.

Work on the Sant'Andrea Rome Basilica started in 1590, and the original design plans were relatively modest when compared to the later plans of Carlo Maderno. This renowned architect is regarded as one of the fathers of the Baroque architectural style, and he certainly left his imprint on Sant'Andrea Della Valle. The facade, much like the facade that Maderno designed for St. Peter's Basilica, is a wonderful example of the Italian Baroque style in particular. Carlo Maderno did not live to see the completion of the Sant'Andrea Della Valle Basilica, and as such, other architects are also credited with adding some touches here and there. Multiple artists were also used in order to carry out the overall project. Among them were Giovanni Lanfranco and Domenichino, who painted the frescoes that can be found on the dome's interior.

More frescoes line the apse of the Sant'Andrea Rome Basilica, and some depict Saint Andrew himself. Visitors are also likely to notice the numerous side chapels while exploring the church's amazing interior. Among them is the Strozzi family chapel, which is widely believed to have been designed by Michelangelo and features a bronze copy of his famed Pieta. Another chapel, the Barberini chapel, inspired the first act of Tosca by Puccini and was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII.

Interestingly enough, the sculpture of St. John that can be found in the Barberini chapel was executed by Pietro Bernini. This artist's son, Gianlorenzo Bernini, is among the most famous Italian artists of all time. Essentially the successor to Michelangelo, Gianlorenzo Bernini is credited with many an amazing work, such as the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) in the Piazza Navona and Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square).

The Sant'Andrea Della Valle Basilica is a verifiable treasure trove, and thanks to many a well-placed window, natural light floods the interior allowing for excellent viewing. Those wishing to indulge in the splendor of it all can drop by any day between the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. These are the opening hours. As for where to find the church, it is located where the major Rome avenue that is the Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II meets the Corso del Rinascimento. The address is 40 Corso del Rinascimento. This basically puts the structure about 20 minutes west of the Colosseum if you are walking.

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