In the Catholic religion Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran is the most important one, even more important than Saint Peter’s basilica in Vatican. Therefore, this is the first destination that any pilgrim would visit in Rome. However, this enormous basilica also draws large numbers of tourists every year who admire its sheer size and its beauty.
The Basilica is very important for the Catholic world. Some consider it to be the oldest church in the world; it is one of the 5 papal basilicas and one of 4 major basilicas in Rome. It is also the official seat of the bishop of Rome (Pope is the bishop of Rome). Because of its importance it is considered the most important basilica and this is why the prefix Arch is added to its name.
In the Roman Empire this area belonged to the Lateran family (Lateranus) whose members were administrators of several Imperators (this is why the church bears the name Lateran). Imperator Nero accused a member of this family (Plautius) for treason, which resulted in the confiscation of the family’s property. This property was later converted into a fort for cavalry of the Imperator’s elite guard. Sometime after Imperator Constantine defeated his enemy Maxentius (on which side the cavalry was fighting), he dismissed this unit. Afterwards this area was given to the bishop of Rome. The basilica was most probably built in 324 and consecrated by Pope Silvestro I. At first, it was dedicated to The Savior, but in 9th century it was also dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, while in the 12th century it was dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist.
For all that time up to the 14th century this was the only seat of papacy in Rome. During its long history, the area was sacked a few times when its treasures were stolen. Even though the existing foundations of the basilica are a lot similar to those of the first basilica from the period of Constantine, the original building went through many restorations in which many different features were added. So we may say that nowadays not much of that original basilica is visible.
Ticket price for Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran
The entrance is FREE of charge.
Working hours of Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran
From Monday to Sunday working hours are: 7:00-18:30h.