As one would expect, Rome is chock-a-block full of churches. Honestly, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a church, not that I endorse swinging cats, dead or otherwise. Now, I’m not at all religious but, like going into Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines when I’m in Japan, I still find these “houses of God” interesting. For me, visiting was all about the art and the history, and there are plenty of fine examples of both to be seen.
The buildings themselves can be mind-boggling at first. St. Peter’s basilica is the most drastic example. You know it’s big from the outside but it’s when you’re inside it that you get a much better sense of how massive and opulent the place is (I’m trying my best to keep comments regarding church extravagance to myself). Even churches away from the Vatican have the bragging rights of being decorated by recognized master artists, like sculptures by Bernini and paintings by Caravaggio, just to name the couple that spring to mind. Fantastic!
I had a very interesting experience while in St. Peter’s basilica: I was there on the day that Pope Benedict announced his resignation. I didn’t think all the TV crews were setting up outside just for me. Given that he’s the first to do so in 600 years, that’s quite the piece of history I was connected to, if only in a small way.