The oldest of the four basilicas in Rome and the ecclesiastical seat of the pope, this basilica is the Cathedral Church of Rome.
Built in 314 under Pope Melchiade, this structure was destroyed and reconstructed multiple times; it survived an earthquake that made the roof collapse, and two fires, which ruined the whole interior. It was demolished and built all over again in the 15th century.
The world's tallest standing obelisk resides in front of this building. It has come a long way, commissioned by an Egyptian Pharaoh, being shipped to Rome instead of Constantinople (where it was initially meant to stand), being broken down in 357 in the Circus Maximus and then rediscovered in the 16th century. After all these trials, it has found its permanent spot here. The facade that we can see today is the result of a reconstruction from 1735, led by Alessandro Galilei.
Today, you can admire sculptures of the 12 Apostles, in a scale greater than life-size. There are beautiful mosaics on the floors, but when you come here, don't forget to look up and adore the gold-framed ceiling.
Do not forget to dress respectfully (covered shoulders and no short shorts). You can get here by metro (station San Giovanni, line A), or by buses 81, 117, 673, 714, 717 and 792.
Official website http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/index_it.htm
Phone +39 06 698 86433
Address Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano 4, 00184 Rome, Italy
Coordinates 41°53'8.805" N 12°30'20.256" E