As one of Rome’s four papal basilicas, this majestc church was founded by Pope Liberius in a.d. 358 and rebuilt on the orders of Pope Sixtus III from 432 to 440. Its 14th-century campanile (bell tower) is the city’s tallest. Much doctored in the 18th century, the church’s facade isn’t an accurate reflection of the treasures inside. The basilica is noted for the 5th-century Roman mosaics adorning its nave, and for its coffered ceiling, added with gold brought, some say, from the New World. The church also contains the tomb of Bernini, Italy’s most important baroque sculptor–architect. Ironically, the man who changed the face of Rome with his sensuous shapes and elaborate fountains is buried in a tomb so simple that it takes a sleuth to find it (to the right, near the altar).
- Frommer's Staff