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.”
Also, it is a historic church possessing the distinction of Pope’s cathedral and is a must-visit if you’re 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 ticket works
- Cost of Basilica of San Giovanni tickets
- Tickets for Basilica of San Giovanni
- Guided tour of 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 Basilica of San Giovanni
- What to wear
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.
The spectacular illusions and biblical genre painting inside the Basilica are inspired by Baroque architecture, Neoclassical architecture, and Early Christian architecture.
On your tour to Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, you explore the baptistery, chapel, church, cloister, and many other exciting attractions.
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 chapel in Basilica di San Giovanni.
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.
Some of them include 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 same 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
You will find twelve statues inside the Lateran Basilica Church representing 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.
|Tickets for The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran||€10|
|Guided tour of San Callisto Catacombs & Basilica of San Giovanni||€22|
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.
If you land up at the venue to buy tickets, you’ll have to line up at the ticket counter. During peak times, these lines can get long, and you will end up wasting your time.
Online tickets for the Basilica of San Giovanni are cheaper than the tickets sold at the venue.
Online tickets also help you avoid last-minute disappointments when tickets get sold out.
How online ticket works
Go to the Basilica of San Giovanni ticket booking page, select your preferred date, the language of the audio guide, and the number of tickets, and buy the tickets 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 ticket on your smartphone here and walk into the Basilica of San Giovanni right away.
Cost of Basilica of San Giovanni tickets
The Basilica of San Giovanni tickets is priced at €10 for all visitors aged 17 years and above.
Kids aged 6 to 17 years get a €1 discount and pay only €9 for entry.
Children up to the age of 6 years can enter the church for free.
Tickets for Basilica of San Giovanni
This ticket provides you 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 audio guide in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.
Adult Ticket (18+ years): €10
Child Ticket (6 to 17 years): €9
Infant Ticket (up to 6 years): Free
Guided tour of San Callisto Catacombs & Basilica of San Giovanni
Get a 3-hour Guided 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 (18+ years): €22
Child Ticket (6 to 17 years): €17
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 by walk.
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 definitely 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: €23
Buy 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.
Click Here to check nearby parking lots.
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 then from 3 pm to 5 pm.
The Scala Sancta is open from 9 am to 2 pm, then from 3 pm to 6.30 pm.
The Sacristy opens at 8 am and closes at 12 pm, then again reopens at 4 pm and finally closes at 6 pm.
The Basilica of San Giovanni is closed on Sundays.
The last entry to the Cathedral is 2 hours before the closing time.
How long does the Basilica of San Giovanni take
The Basilica di San Giovanni 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 Basilica of San Giovanni
The best time to visit the Basilica of San Giovanni is at 9 am.
By this time, Cloister, the Sancta Sanctorum, the Baptistery, the Scala Sancta, and the Treasure Museum get open and you can explore them all in one go.
However, if you just want to visit the Basilica, you can visit 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 capture its beauty mindfully.
On weekends, the Basilica di San Giovanni Laterano experiences a huge rush, which may prevent you from exploring the Museum conveniently.
What to wear
When visiting the Basilica of San Giovanni in Rome, it is important to dress modestly and respectfully because most of them have strict dress codes.
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.
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