Santa Prassede Rome, Italy

A hidden gem near Santa Maria Maggiore, this 9th-century basilica has glorious Byzantine mosaics. Also here is a piece of the scourging column of Christ and other relics.

General Interior View
Holly Hayes All Images »

Facts & Stats

Best Known As
Santa Prassede
Full Name
Santa Prassede
Also Known As
Basilica di Santa Prassede
41.896411° N, 12.498655° E  (map)

Contact Info

9/a Via de Santa Prassede/Via San Martino ai Monti
06 48 82 456


Rome Day 4

Our last full day in Rome (Sat Nov 13) had a much lighter agenda, but we still got a whole *lot* of exercise. The main goal of the day was to visit the Colosseum before it closed and squeeze in a couple more churches.

We more or less made a beeline for the Colosseum in the morning, but made a stop at a church I really love for its mosaics, called Santa Prassede. It was built in the 9th century and its mosaics date from the same period. I had my zoom lens along and was really happy to get all their wonderful details.

Interior of Santa Prassede

Detail of 9th-century mosaic depicting heaven

Detail of mosaic monogram under one of the arches, representing Pope Paschal I (817-24), who built the church.

And here's Paschal himself, looking like an astronaut and holding a model of his church. The square halo signifies that he was still alive when the mosaic was made.

In addition to the mosaics in the main part of the church, there is a little side chapel that is fully covered in them. This is the ceiling.

Mosaics in the chapel, including the Lamb of God, the Four Rivers of Paradise, three female saints, and a lady who was still living.

Extreme closeup of a lion

Then we headed straight for the Colosseum. Along the way we passed some ancient Roman ruins, which signs eventually informed us were Trajan's Baths. They occupied several city blocks - pretty impressive!

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Then, finally, the Colosseum. Our hearts sank when we saw how long the line was - it probably would have taken an hour to get in. But we decided to take a salesman up on his offer of an English guided tour that skips the queue, for €8 on top of admission. It started outside with a bit of entertainment, including crowd-involved humor and a guy dressed up as a gladiator, which was only mildly amusing lasted longer than we might have liked.

But then we did indeed get to sail past the long line in the fast line and we were in! And we promptly ditched the tour.

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The visitor route goes up some steep stairs to the upper level, where you can walk around the entire circle, then down to the main level overlooking the structures that were under the arena floor. It was pretty impressive, I have to say. And there were some good views of the Forum from the upper level, too.

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View towards the Forum

Colosseum accomplished, we headed back along the Circus Maximus (again) and across the river to the Trastevere neighborhood. There are a couple of good churches there, but the main thing on my agenda was lunch! During our 2006 visit, David and I discovered a salad restaurant chain that is quite delicious - and a nice change from pasta and pizza - called Insalata Ricca. We didn't manage to make it back in 2008, and I was determined to eat there again this time. It took a bit of hunting to find, but was very satisfying when we did! And at that point the cold drinks and the sitting made us at least as happy as the food.

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They have dozens of salads to choose from, which is a little overwhelming. But we both ended up choosing the same one - chicken with potatoes, raisins and carrots. Quite delicious and nice to have something healthy for a change.

And it was a good thing we had a bit of a rest, because we had one final challenge ahead of us - get to the Vatican Museums before the doors closed at 4:00. And we left the restaurant at 3:25. *And* I made a brief stop at Santa Maria in Trastevere on the way, where I did one of my fastest photography jobs ever - about 3 minutes! Then we power-walked the whole way from Trastevere to the Vatican, following the Tiber River. It was a photo finish and we ran some of the last of it. Uphill! (For the record, I did not expect Sarah to bother with any of this silliness, but she was game and wanted to try to make it!)

But I'm very, very sad to report that we arrived at 4:04, and the doors were tightly shut. We sat down on the marble steps out front for a bit, dejected and exhausted. It was our last day in Rome and the museum is closed on Sundays, so that was it, and I was pretty sad to have missed out on it. Sarah would have especially liked to see the Sistine Chapel, but fortunately she wasn't too upset about it. At least we tried, and we were still in pretty good spirits as we trudged the rest of the way home, legs like jelly.

Our spirits were further lifted by a fun surprise along the way: a group of street performers breakdancing as the Mario Brothers, to the original music from Super Mario 1. They even acted out going down green pipes and hitting blocks to get mushrooms, in time with the sound effects. It was so friendly, as Sarah and I played lots of Mario together in college!

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And that, finally, concludes the story of our adventures in Rome. We left around 11:30 the next morning for Florence. And tomorrow we leave Venice after being here for three days, so I am now woefully behind! Further bad news is that I've just read some recent reviews of our next hotel, which is in Verona, and there were complaints about the internet not working very well. So who knows when I'll get caught up, but I will!

Further Resources

  1. Matilda Webb. The Churches and Catacombs of Early Christian Rome: A Comprehensive Guide, pp. 68-71.