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Churches in Rome, Italy with Magnificent Mirrors Blog

Churches in Rome, Italy, with Magnificent Mirrors

For centuries, Rome, Italy, has captivated the hearts of countless travelers with the breathtaking artistic masterpieces adorning its archeological sites, museums and sacred spaces. When you’re not exploring majestic ruins on a tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill or wandering through the dazzling halls of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s basilica on a tour of the Vatican, you can admire the mesmerizing artwork decorating the city’s many churches. Rather than straining your neck to take in the ornately frescoed ceilings and domes above, you can opt to gaze into a strategically placed mirror instead. These reflections provide a unique perspective for appreciating art and make for fantastic photo-ops!

In this guide, we’ll reveal how to visit four of Rome’s most magnificent mirrors and dive into the fascinating history behind their respective churches. While the famous mirror within the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola has become quite well-known in recent years due to social media trends, other mirrors in Rome found within Chiesa del Gesù, the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle and the Church of Santa Maria dell’Orto remain secret wonders unbeknownst to most travelers.

Ready to discover churches in Rome and their enchanting beauty through a fresh lens? Keep reading to uncover the remarkable reflections of Rome’s mirrors with us!

1. The Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola—Rome’s Most Famous Mirror

The famous mirror located within the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Rome, Italy

Without a doubt, the most famous mirror in Rome lies within the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This church is conveniently located in Piazza di Sant’Ignazio, an enchanting square nestled just down the street from the Pantheon. Besides boasting a centralized position, you have the privilege to visit at almost any hour, as it is open daily from 9:30 AM to 11:30 PM.

Before its rise to fame due to social media, the St. Ignatius of Loyola mirror was a hidden gem in Rome free for the public to admire. Now, it’s not uncommon for there to be lengthy queues here, especially during peak hours of the day. Though the time it takes to reach the front of the line can vary, it can easily take upwards of thirty minutes. Note that in recent years, the church also implemented a one euro fee to gaze into the mirror. After inserting a coin into the adjacent slot, you’ll have one minute to enjoy the gorgeous reflection before the view becomes obstructed with a foggy haze. So, is it worth the wait? Well, it’s certainly an unforgettable experience and provides you with the unique opportunity to capture a photo of yourself with one of the most awe-inspiring ceilings in Italy!

While the sheer beauty of the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola is a reason to visit alone, its history is just as captivating. The church was constructed from 1626 to 1650 in the ornate Baroque style and was dedicated to the founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius of Loyola. In order to save money at the time of its creation, Jesuit artist, Andrea Pozzo, was tasked with frescoing a false dome. When standing in the center of the nave, you would never guess that the dome was just a painted architectural illusion! The vaulted ceiling was frescoed by Pozzo as well and depicts the Rise of Saint Ignatius into Paradise. Pozzo’s masterful use of perspective gives the illusion that the walls of the church are extending into the heavens. This aesthetic symphony of colors and artistic skill is truly a feast for the eyes, so it’s easy to understand why the mirror pointed upwards at its composition has captured the attention of so many travelers!

2. The Two Majestic Mirrors of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle

The glorious reflection of the ceiling and dome of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome, Italy, as seen from one of the mirrors within the church’s nave

The stunning reflection of the vault of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome, Italy, as seen from one of the mirrors within the church’s nave

The next church in Rome on our list boasts not one, but two majestic mirrors! The imposing Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle is located just a three minute stroll away from Piazza Navona on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. It’s open Sunday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM and Saturday from 12 PM to 8 PM. Despite its bustling setting, the basilica still remains somewhat of a hidden treasure, allowing visitors to look into its mirrors free of charge and without the long queues!

Construction on the Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle began in 1591 and endured through the first half of the 17th century. Over the course of its creation, its design was influenced by acclaimed architects such as Gian Francesco Grimaldi, Giacomo Della Porta, Carlo Maderno and Carlo Rainaldi. It was truly a massive undertaking, as the cupola was the second tallest in Rome, coming in just after St. Peter’s Basilica! The ornate frescoes covering the dome and pendentives were completed by Giovanni Lanfranco and Domenichino, pupils of the famed Baroque painter, Annibale Caracci. The dazzling artwork adorning the vault was carried out in later years by a group of 20th century artists and features detailed scenes recounting the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Utilizing the mirrors within the central nave to admire this ceiling and dome is an absolute must when visiting this remarkable basilica!

3. The Heavenly Mirror of Chiesa del Gesù, the Mother Church of the Society of Jesus

The heavenly mirror within Chiesa del Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus, in Rome, Italy

One of our all-time favorite mirrors in Rome lies within Chiesa del Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus. This impressive church can be found in Piazza del Gesù, just between Largo di Torre Argentina and Piazza Venezia. It’s only open for certain hours each day, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly. From Monday through Saturday, it’s open 7:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 4 PM to 7:30 PM. On Sunday, it’s open 7:45 AM to 1 PM and 4 PM to 8 PM. Upon entering, you’ll find exquisite art and decorations at every turn and a mirror that will truly take your breath away—this one is free to visit as well!

Chiesa del Gesù was established in 1551 by Saint Ignatius of Loyola and features a grandiose design that has since inspired countless other churches all over the world. Once inside, you’ll immediately notice the ingeniously frescoed vault entitled, Triumph of the Name of Jesus, painted by Giovanni Battista Gaulli during the second half of the 17th century. Gaulli also frescoed the dome to further bring the interior to life and offer viewers a vivid glimpse into the heavens above. The show-stopping mirror is positioned near the entrance of the church and grants you the ability to marvel at the glowing, golden ceiling without any neck strain. Appreciating art in Rome has never been easier!

If you choose to add Chiesa del Gesù to your Rome travel itinerary, we highly recommend visiting in the early evening so you can also witness a one-of-a-kind spectacle within the lavish Chapel of Saint Ignatius of Loyola situated just to the left of the main altar. Here each night at 5:30 PM, the “Baroque Machine” puts on a jaw-dropping show featuring dramatic music and narration. This timeless ritual culminates in an ornate painting being lowered to reveal a golden statue of Saint Ignatius before the lights of the basilica are switched on all at once!

4. The Mirror of Santa Maria dell’Orto, a Hidden Gem in Rome’s Trastevere Neighborhood

The marvelous hidden mirror within the Church of Santa Maria dell’Orto in Rome, Italy

Out of all the churches on our guide, this next one is perhaps the least well-known of all—but it should not be underestimated! The Church of Santa Maria dell’Orto, or St. Mary of the Garden, is located just off the beaten path on Via Anicia in Rome’s vibrant Trastevere neighborhood. The opening hours vary by day, so be sure to keep that in mind when crafting your schedule. In general, the church is open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM, Monday from 2 PM to 6 PM, Wednesday from 10 AM to 2 PM, Saturday from 10 AM to 1PM and Sunday from 11 AM to 11:45 AM. Though Santa Maria dell’Orto is smaller than the other churches previously mentioned in this Rome guide, it is covered head to toe in intricate decorations and colorful frescoes. The mirror strategically placed within the center of the nave is free to admire and reflects the splendid ceiling that lies above!

The history surrounding Santa Maria dell’Orto is quite fascinating as well. For centuries, the once open area was home to abundant vegetable gardens. Toward the end of the 15th century, however, a divine event occurred that would alter the land’s future. According to the story, a farmer who tilled the land there experienced a miracle attributed to an image of the Madonna. As a result, a church was built on the very site and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Fittingly, the walls of the church depict scenes from the life of Mary on Earth. Meanwhile, the vaulted ceiling depicts Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, having been completed by Giacinto Calandrucci at the start of the 18th century. Today, Santa Maria dell’Orto is the national church of Japan in Rome.

Final Reflections

When reflecting on all the Eternal City has to offer, it’s clear to see that there is so much history and beauty to discover. Partaking in a guided tour of the Colosseum, enjoying a skip-the-line tour of the Vatican Museums and exploring the iconic monuments of the historical center on foot are certainly must-do activities when in Rome, but there are even more spectacular sights awaiting your adoration within its churches. Opting to gaze into one of the magnificent mirrors mentioned in this Rome travel guide will grant you the one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become immersed in the art yourself!

Heading to Italy soon? We’d love to welcome you on one of our carefully curated guided tours of Rome led by a passionate, local guide!

If you have any questions or require assistance with booking a tour, kindly reach out to our team via email at info@whatalifetours.com or by phone at +39 06 89 111 009 and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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