Church of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs
Church of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs is conveniently located close to the National Museum of Rome and the Termini station. You can also catch Hop On, Hop Off buses from this area. The church faces onto Piazza Repubblica that is at the top end of Via Nazionale.
The outside of the Church of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs looks very unassuming. There is no true facade; in fact it matches the ruins of the adjacent (and partial incorporated) Roman baths. Walk through those huge bronze doors and then you see this Basilicas inner beauty.
Michelangelo designed this immense and beautiful church on the remains of the Baths of Diocletian at the request of Pope Pius IV in 1561. The baths were enormous and still has a lot of the original structure. It could accommodate over three thousand bathers at the same time. Try to imagine what was going on here with all the original Romans bathing here.
Church of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs is awe-inspiring with its huge stained glass dome, extraordinary arches and appealing baroque detail. It's not as ornate (in comparison with other churches in Rome), but its simplicity adds to its grandeur. It was stunning when the sun pours through the windows. The multi-colored tile gleams. The artwork and architecture is intricate, exquisite and majestic.
One of its most interesting features is further inside the church. It is a strip of inlaid numbers and zodiac symbols on the floor. It is a sundial/calendar and was built in 1702.
There is a notch cut out of the right transept for a fine ray of sunlight. It shines down on the line and moves across it as the day continues.
Church of St Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs has a very large and beautiful pipe organ that plays unbelievable music. I was lucky to be here when the choir was practicing and they were using the pipe organ. It just sounds so graceful.
Also remember to go towards the left of the main chapel into the small chapel where exhibits are held. The large bronze statue of Galileo was spectacular. It is placed around the towering outer structure of the original Diocletian Baths, with original planks of marble poking out of the worn red bricks. In order to read the exhibit, you have to put Euro coins into the machine to turn on the light.
The church was not crammed with tourists. I promise you won't be disappointed with this relatively little known and little-visited church. It is truly a beautiful church.