San Giovanni in Laterano was the first openly Christian basilica built in the city of Rome. The 18-th century facade is impressive, with large statues of Christ and the apostles at the summit. The tall bronze green doors were moved to this church from Rome's ancient Senate building in the 1650s to remind everyone that the church was Europe's lawmaker.
The church is huge and impressive. No wonder, as it's where the pope occasionally holds mass. The mosaic half dome over the apse glistens, and the bishop's chair beneath is where newly-elected popes must sit before the can officially become pope. (Methinks the ceremony is likely timed so that the shaft of light entering the window above left falls squarely on the bishop's chair.)
It's a good idea to combine a visit to this church with a visit to the Holy Staircase, which is right across the street. It's also not far from San Clemente, another fascinating religious site.
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