The world's best gallery: Part 2.

The oldest major basilica in the city - as in, literally, belonged to Constantine. Now, "the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome" - in other words, the Pope.

If the day we visited the ruins was our favorite day spent Rome, the day we spent exploring the city's many churches was, easily, a very close second.

There were churches everywhere and, I mean, everywhere. A block away from each other, across the street from one another, sometimes literally right next to each other because a city planner wanted to create symmetry.... As our tour guide said the very first afternoon we were there, if you are religious, there is absolutely no excuse not to go to church when visiting Rome.

One of the best things about the churches was how plain, or even downright bleak they could look on the outside:

This one was in a piazza with, not kidding, at least four other churches.

But take one step inside and it was clear that they were anything but:

I know this is a bit blurry, but it was just so spectacular. It looked, to me, almost more like a government building than a place of worship. And those massive statues along the sides there - all twelve of the apostles.

Each had their claim to fame - a relic, a work of art, a tomb.

The chains of Saint Peter.

Or better....his head.
Michaelangelo's Moses.

Doors pillaged from the Curia in the Roman Forum.

This gorgeous ceiling fresco in the Jesuit Chiesa del Gesù. A mirror is placed underneath to give the proper perspective of ascending into Heaven.

And remember that "ecclesiastical seat" I was talking about. Well, it is not only a figurative one. This seat is for the Pope, and the Pope only. Obviously Owen dared me to run up and sit on it. Obviously, I didn't.

And this. This, this, this! This was the most empty of all of the churches we visited. Shockingly so. Most people didn't seem to know anything about the statue, and yet they gravitated toward it.

Even Owen was happy to sit, soaking up the atmosphere in quiet contemplation or referencing our guide book for each and every interesting fact about whichever church we were in. A sight I never thought I would see, and one I don't expect I will see again, any time soon.



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