Santa Sabina

This ancient church on the Aventine Hill has some of the oldest Christian art in the world

Santa Sabina all'Aventino
Piazza Pietro d'Illiria 1 / Via S. Sabina
tel. +39-06-579-401 or 06-5794-0600
Open daily 8:15am–12:30pm and 3:30–6pm

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A detail of the 5th century carved wooden doors on Rome's church of Santa Sabina
A detail of the 5th century carved wooden doors.
This is one of Rome's best surviving paleo-Christian churches.

Santa Sabina was built in AD 422–32 and still retains its original 5th century wooden doors, beautifully carved with Biblical scenes including one of the earliest Crucifixions in western art.

The door is located at the end of the 15th-century porch filled with sarcophagus lids (mounted on swivel frames so you can spin each one to examine both sides; cool).

At first glance, the gorgeous and shadowy interior seems almost perfectly preserved, with giant Corinthian columns pirated from a nearby ancient structure and the original opus sectile marble inlay above the arches. Most of the chapels, however, have been baroqued, though this impacts little on the overall effect.

If it's open, pop into the pretty 13th-century cloisters off the porch.

Just down the road is the massive Knights of Malta gate.


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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in April 2013. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett