"Basilica of St. Croce in Jerusalem" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Wednesday 11th January 2012
The basilica was built in an area previously occupied by a residential district of imperial property, including a palace, a circus an amphitheatre. The palace has later become the residence of Elena, Costantino's mother. He created the basilica in the atrium of the palace to preserve the relic of the Holy Cross, she herself had brought to Rome. The ancient basilica was restored in 1144. It was divided in two aisles and a nave and endowed with a Porch and a Bell Tower.
In the 15th century the ceilings of the aisles and nave were decorated by famous artists such as Melozzo da Forlì or Antoniazzo Romano. The basilica took the current aspect in 18th century, when a new façade was carried out (one of the masterpieces of Roman Baroque) and the inside restored. On the right of the façade the Romanic Bell Tower dating back 12th century, stands out. From the central portal it is possible to enter the elliptical Atrium with the small dome. Inside there is a nave and two aisles, divided by 12 huge magnificent ancient columns made of granite; the floor is cosmatesque. Under the major altar there is a Basalt Urn with the relics of St. Cesareo and Anastasio.
At the centre of the apse, decorated with frescos and paintings attributed to Antoniazzo Romano, there is the grave of Cardinal Quinones by Jacopo Sansovino (1536) over it there is a marble tabernacle and a golden bronze statue of Carlo Maderno. From the stairs on the right of the ciborium it is possible to go down towards the Chapel of St. Elena, where on the vault there is still a wonderful mosaic dating back the end of 15th century, supposedly attributed to Melozzo da Forlì or Baldassarre Peruzzi. The statue over the altar is an original Roman piece discovered in Ostia and changed in St. Elena adding the Cross and replacing the head. In the modern Chapel of Relics some pieces of the cross and other relics are preserved.
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Piazza Santa Croce in Gerusalemme 12
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