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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. Its latest incarnation is still off-limits to visitors, along with restored frescoes you can read about but still not see.
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