Santa Maria Antiqua
Santa Maria Antiqua Review
The earliest Christian site in the Forum was originally part of an imperial temple, before it was converted into a church some time in the 5th or 6th century. Within are some exceptional but faded 7th- and 8th-century frescoes of the early church fathers, saints, and popes; the styles vary from typically classical to Oriental, reflecting the empire's expansion eastward. Largely destroyed in a 9th-century earthquake, the church was abandoned only to be rebuilt in 1617, then knocked down again in 1900 following excavation work on the Forum. The church had been closed to visitors since 1980, but its repair was taken on as a World Heritage Monuments fund project in 2006. The Early Christian frescoes have been restored, and Rome's Culture Ministry announced that it would start opening to visitors three days a week in spring 2014.