The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, or the Basilica of San Giovanni, is the oldest Catholic cathedral that ranks highest among Rome’s four major papal basilicas.
Founded in the early 300s, it is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome, holding the unique title of “archbasilica.”
This historic church holds the distinction of being the Pope’s cathedral and is a must-visit when in Rome.
Table of contents
- What to expect at Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano?
- Where to buy Basilica of San Giovanni tickets
- How online tickets work
- Cost of Basilica of San Giovanni tickets
- Tickets for the Basilica of San Giovanni
- Guided tour of the San Callisto Catacombs & Basilica of San Giovanni
- Palazzo Merulana + Digital Postcard + Archbasilica St. John Lateran
- How to reach the Basilica of San Giovanni
- Basilica of San Giovanni timings
- How long does the Basilica of San Giovanni take
- Best time to visit the Basilica of San Giovanni
- What to see at the Basilica of San Giovanni
- What to wear
- FAQs about the Basilica of San Giovanni
What to expect at Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano?
The Basilica of San Giovanni is Rome’s official cathedral and serves as the seat of the bishop of Rome, the Pope.
Its interiors feature a stunning Gothic design, with soaring columns, intricate stonework, and beautiful stained glass windows.
Baroque, neoclassical, and early Christian architecture inspired the spectacular illusions and biblical paintings inside the Basilica.
On your tour to Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, you explore the baptistery, chapel, church, cloister, and many other exciting attractions.
|Tickets for The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran
|Guided tour of San Callisto Catacombs & Basilica of San Giovanni
Where to buy Basilica of San Giovanni tickets
You can purchase your Archbasilica of St. John Lateran entry tickets at the attraction or online in advance.
You must line up at the counter if you land at the venue to buy tickets. During peak hours, these lines can get long, and you will waste your time.
Online tickets for the Basilica of San Giovanni are cheaper than those sold at the venue.
Online tickets also help you avoid last-minute disappointments when tickets get sold out.
How online tickets work
Go to the Basilica of San Giovanni ticket booking page, select your preferred date and the number of tickets, and buy those instantly.
After the purchase, you will receive the tickets in your email.
You don’t need to take any printouts.
On the day of your visit, when you enter the Basilica, walk directly into the Lateran corridor.
At the end of this corridor, you’ll find the ORP desk (Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi) on your left-hand side.
Show the e-ticket on your smartphone here and immediately walk into the Basilica of San Giovanni.
Cost of Basilica of San Giovanni tickets
The Basilica of San Giovanni tickets are priced at €11 for all visitors aged 17 years and above.
Kids aged 6 to 17 get a discount and pay only €10 for entry.
Children up to the age of 6 years can enter the church for free.
Tickets for the Basilica of San Giovanni
This ticket provides access to the Cloister, Sancta Sanctorum, Baptistery, Scala Sancta, and Treasure Museum.
In addition, you can see interesting artifacts and works of art, including relics of the apostles Peter and Paul and the statue of Constantine the Great.
Be it the Holy Door or the grand statues of Jesus Christ, you cannot take your eyes off anything at the Basilica of San Giovanni.
You will also get an English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish audio guide.
Adult Ticket (18+ years): €11
Child Ticket (6 to 17 years): €10
Infant Ticket (up to 6 years): Free
Guided tour of the San Callisto Catacombs & Basilica of San Giovanni
Get a 3-hour guided combo tour of the Basilica of San Giovanni and the San Callisto Catacombs by a knowledgeable and experienced guide.
The tour guides will tell you about the historical significance of the Scala Santa (the Holy Staircase Jesus walked upon) and the underground cemetery.
This ticket includes admission into San Callisto Catacombs, the Basilica of San Giovanni, the Cloister, the Holy Stairs, and the Sancta Sanctorum and offers a multilingual audio guide.
Adult Ticket (17+ years): €24
Child Ticket (7 to 16 years): €19
Infant Ticket (up to 6 years): Free
Palazzo Merulana + Digital Postcard + Archbasilica St. John Lateran
Palazzo Merulana and Basilica of San Giovanni are only 600 meters away and can be reached in 8 minutes on foot.
So why not visit both historical sites on the same day?
Buy the combo ticket of Palazzo Merulana + Archbasilica St. John Lateran and amplify your Rome tour.
You get up to a 5% discount on this ticket, which is a steal deal!
The entire tour lasts for about 3 hours.
You will also get a Digital Postcard that can be sent worldwide.
Ticket Cost: €24
Buy the Roma Pass and visit one or two of Rome’s top attractions with access to public transport. Pick either a 48-hour pass or a 72-hour pass and get direct entry into the famous gems of Rome.
How to reach the Basilica of San Giovanni
Basilica di San Giovanni is located in Laterano.
Address: P.za di S. Giovanni in Laterano, 4, 00184 Roma RM, Italy. Get Directions
You can reach Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano via public and private transport.
However, we recommend using public transport to reach the cathedral.
You can board bus numbers 81 and 792 to reach the P.Za S. Giovanni In Laterano Bus Stop, a 4-minute walk to the Basilica of San Giovanni.
You can take Subway Line A to reach the San Giovanni Subway Station, which is just 5 minutes away from the attraction.
If you’re driving, you can turn on Google Maps on your smartphone and get started.
There are enough parking garages around the attraction.
Basilica of San Giovanni timings
The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is open from 7 am to 6.30 pm.
The Lateran Baptistery is open from 9 am until 7 pm.
The Cloister opens at 9 am and closes at 6 pm, while the Museum of Basilica opens at 10 am and closes at 5.30 pm.
The Sancta Santorum welcomes guests from 9 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm.
The Scala Sancta is open from 9 am to 2 pm and 3 pm to 6.30 pm.
The Sacristy opens at 8 am, closes at 12 pm, reopens at 4 pm, and closes at 6 pm.
The Basilica of San Giovanni is closed on Sundays.
The last entry to the Cathedral is 2 hours before closing.
How long does the Basilica of San Giovanni take
A Basilica di San Giovanni tour in Laterano takes around two hours.
You’d need 80 minutes for the Basilica and the Cloister and 40 minutes for the Scala Sancta and the Sancta Sanctorum.
Best time to visit the Basilica of San Giovanni
The best time to visit the Basilica of San Giovanni is 9 am.
By this time, the Cloister, the Sancta Sanctorum, the Baptistery, the Scala Sancta, and the Treasure Museum are open, and you can explore them all in one go.
However, if you want to visit the Basilica, you can do so as soon as it opens at 7 am.
The crowd is usually less during the morning, giving you ample time to stroll inside the Cathedral and mindfully capture its beauty.
On weekends, the Basilica di San Giovanni Laterano experiences a huge rush, which may prevent you from exploring the Museum conveniently.
What to see at the Basilica of San Giovanni
Here is a list of places to explore at the Basilica of San Giovanni:
The Basilica of San Giovanni is considered the mother of all churches in the Western world.
It was consecrated in 324 AD by Pope Sylvester I and has undergone many changes and renovations over the centuries.
The Sancta Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies, is a small Basilica di San Giovanni chapel.
It was originally built as a private chapel for the Pope, but over time, it has become a popular place of pilgrimage for Catholics.
The Sancta Sanctorum contains many important relics, such as fragments of the True Cross, a piece of the Column of Flagellation, and the icon of the Acheiropoieton, believed to have been painted by Saint Luke himself.
The Lateran Baptistery is adorned with beautiful octagonal mosaics and frescoes that depict scenes from the Bible and early Christian history.
This site is still used for baptisms and is considered a significant place of worship and historical importance.
The Sacristy inside the Basilica is an important part of the church, where priests and bishops prepare for Mass and other religious ceremonies.
It is located to the right of the high altar and is richly decorated with valuable and historical objects, such as liturgical vestments, chalices, and other religious artifacts.
The Basilica also has a beautiful cloister that dates back to the 13th century.
It features intricate stonework, beautiful fountains, and a peaceful garden where visitors can relax and enjoy the scenery.
The Scala Sancta, or Holy Stairs, is a set of 28 marble steps that are said to have been brought to Rome by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine.
The stairs are believed to be the ones Jesus climbed on the way to his trial before Pontius Pilate.
Tombs of 6 Popes
The Basilica of San Giovanni is home to the six papal tombs of Pope Sergius IV, Pope Alexander III, Pope Innocent III, Pope Martinus V, Pope Clement XII, and Pope Leo XII.
Statues of the Apostles
Twelve statues inside the Lateran Basilica Church represent the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.
– On the North Wall: Saint Simon, Saint Bartholomew, Saint James the Lesser, Saint John, Saint Andrew, and Saint Peter statues.
– On the South Wall: Saint Paul, Saint James the Greater, Saint Thomas, Saint Philip, Saint Matthew, and Saint Jude Thaddeus statues.
The high Basilica altar is one of the most significant features and is said to contain the wooden table on which Saint Peter himself celebrated Mass.
The Baldacchino is a large, ornate canopy that covers the high altar.
It was designed by the famous Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini and is considered one of his masterpieces.
What to wear
When visiting the Basilica of San Giovanni in Rome, it is important to dress modestly and respectfully, as it is a place of worship.
This typically means covering your shoulders, avoiding short skirts or shorts, and wearing clothing that is not too tight or revealing.
Wearing head coverings such as hats or scarves is also recommended for women.
Moreover, you should wear formal shoes or sandals that cover your feet.
FAQs about the Basilica of San Giovanni
Here are a few frequently asked questions about the Basilica of San Giovanni:
Guided and combo tours are offered at the Basilica of San Giovanni, providing in-depth insights into the history, architecture, and significance of the Basilica.
A regular visit to the Basilica of San Giovanni can last up to 2 hours, and guided or combo tours can last up to 3 hours.
Flash photography is restricted during the tour, and some areas may have specific rules. Checking with the tour guide is advisable as photography policies may vary.
These tours are family-friendly, but it’s essential to consider children’s attention spans and interests.
The tour is wheelchair accessible.
Yes, audio guides are available for the Basilica of San Giovanni tour. The audio guide is available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
The travel specialists at TheBetterVacation.com use only high-quality sources while researching & writing their articles. We make every attempt to keep our content current, reliable and trustworthy.