Parallel to Via Merulana, next to Santa Maria Maggiore, lies Via di Santa Prassede. On the right, a wall and an inconspicuous door introduce visitors to Santa Prassede Church; it is a side entrance which presents the right nave of one of the most charming places in Rome.
The church that we see today was built by St. Paschal I (817-824). The interior has three naves. The church, which can be admired for the splendid floor in the Cosmati style, preserves two masterpieces of the Roman Middle Ages: the mosaics of the triumphal arch of the apse and the Chapel of San Zenone.
The glitter of the mosaics, at the end of the nave, can be seen already from the main entrance. When the church is bathed in the evening twilight, the mosaics are artificially lit up: the best time to enjoy their absolute beauty. It is a set of mosaics that is unequaled in the Middle Ages in the Roman Empire, for its imaginative use of colour, complexity and richness of symbols: Heavenly Jerusalem where the elected come from, Christ surrounded by angels and saints, and themes of the Apocalypse.
The mosaics in the apse were inspired by the wonderful mosaics of the church of St Cosma and Damiano in the Forum: they contain the same blue skies and palms of paradise. The Chapel of San Zenone was constructed by Paschal I as a mausoleum for his mother Theodora.
Located in the right nave of the church, in form of Greek cross, its vault is completely covered with gold mosaics. It is no wonder that it has been called the "Garden of Paradise": it is an area full of enchantment, the most exquisite mosaic chapel that exists in Rome whose architecture refers to the chapels of Ravenna. To admire the structure, you should go when the lights are off; when your eyes become accustomed to the darkness and begin to identify the reflections of the stones of the mosaics, turning on the lights will enhance the glitter of the gold. The vault is the culmination of the work: four elegant angelic figures hold a garland around the Saviour’s shoulders and head.
Open 07:30am-12:00pm 03:00pm-06:30pm
Visitors are not allowed during Mass (religious services)
For services schedule please refer to:
Opening times are subject to change. Please call the Church