Farah Marini

Exploring Basilica of San Crisogono

Delve into the ancient history and artistic splendor of the Basilica of San Crisogono in Rome's Trastevere.

Trastevere Attraction
Basilica of San Crisogono in Trastevere, Rome


If you are looking for a hidden gem in the historical district of Trastevere in Rome, you might want to visit the Basilica of San Crisogono. This 17th-century church is dedicated to the martyr Saint Chrysogonus, who was probably killed during the persecution of Diocletian. The church has a beautiful Baroque interior, but the real treasure lies beneath: an ancient 4th-century church with vivid medieval frescoes and ancient sarcophagi. In this article, you will learn more about the history, art and architecture of this fascinating site.

Setting Expectations: Downsides and Time Considerations

The Basilica of San Crisogono is not very well known, so you might have the chance to explore it without crowds. However, this also means that the access to the underground excavations is not always easy. You will need to look for the guardian around the church, usually by the sacristy, and pay a small fee of 3 euros. The opening hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. The visit will take about half an hour, but you might want to spend more time admiring the details of the frescoes and sarcophagi.

Tips for your visit of San Crisogono

  • Wear comfortable shoes The underground area is uneven and sometimes slippery, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear.
  • Bring a flashlight The lighting in the excavations is not very bright, so you might want to bring a flashlight or use your phone to see better.

If you are interested in the history and art of San Crisogono, you might also want to visit other nearby churches that have similar underground treasures, such as Santa Cecilia in Trastevere or San Clemente al Laterano.

Practical Information

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday: 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. | 4 p.m. - 7 p.m., Sunday and holidays: 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. | 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

How to Get There: The church is located in Piazza Sonnino 44, in the heart of Trastevere. You can reach it by bus (lines 23, 125, 280), tram (line 8) or walk from the city center.

Price: The entrance to the church is free, but you need to pay 3 euros to access the underground excavations.

Crowds: The church is not very crowded, but you might encounter some groups of tourists or pilgrims.

Weather Considerations: The church is open all year round, but it might be colder or warmer than outside in the underground area.

Photography: Photography is allowed in the church and in the excavations, but without flash or tripod.

Accessibility: The church is accessible by wheelchair, but the underground area is not.

Facilities: There are no facilities in the church, such as toilets or cafés.

Tours: There are no guided tours of the church or the excavations, but you can get a small information pamphlet from the guardian.

Bringing Children: Children are welcome to visit the church and the excavations, but they should be supervised by an adult and respect the sacredness of the place.

Bringing Pets: Pets are not allowed in the church or the excavations.

These details are subject to change; please check the official website for the latest information

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Basilica of San Crisogono?

    The Basilica of San Crisogono is a 12th-century church in Rome, dedicated to Saint Chrysogonus, one of the martyrs of the Diocletian persecution. It is located in the Trastevere district, on the Piazza Sonnino.

  • What are the main attractions of the Basilica?

    The Basilica of San Crisogono has a rich artistic and historical heritage, including a Romanesque bell tower, a Baroque façade, a mosaic apse, and a crypt with ancient frescoes and inscriptions. The Basilica also houses the relics of Saint Chrysogonus and other saints.

  • How can I visit the Basilica of San Crisogono?

    The Basilica of San Crisogono is open to the public every day from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 4:00 pm to 7:30 pm. The entrance is free, but donations are welcome. You can also book a guided tour of the crypt for a small fee.

  • When is the best time to visit the Basilica of San Crisogono?

    The Basilica of San Crisogono is a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists alike, so it can get crowded during peak seasons and holidays. If you want to avoid the crowds, you can visit the Basilica early in the morning or late in the afternoon. You can also enjoy the festive atmosphere of the Trastevere neighborhood, where you can find many restaurants, bars, and shops.

Must see

  • The Romanesque bell tower

    The bell tower of the Basilica of San Crisogono is one of the oldest and tallest in Rome, dating back to the 12th century. It has six floors and a pyramidal spire, and it is decorated with arches, columns, and windows. The bell tower offers a panoramic view of the city and the Tiber river.

  • The Baroque façade

    The façade of the Basilica of San Crisogono was built in the 17th century by Giovanni Battista Soria, a pupil of Bernini. It has a triangular pediment with a statue of Saint Chrysogonus on top, and four columns with statues of saints on the sides. The façade also features a large rose window and a marble portal with an inscription.

  • The mosaic apse

    The apse of the Basilica of San Crisogono is adorned with a splendid mosaic from the 13th century, depicting Christ enthroned with saints and angels. The mosaic has a golden background and vibrant colors, and it is considered one of the finest examples of medieval art in Rome.

  • The crypt

    The crypt of the Basilica of San Crisogono is a hidden treasure that reveals the ancient origins of the church. It was discovered in 1907, when excavations revealed a lower church from the 4th century, built over a Roman house from the 1st century. The crypt contains frescoes, inscriptions, sarcophagi, and relics from different periods, as well as a well-preserved mosaic floor.

If you visit the Basilica of San Crisogono, you will not only admire its beauty and history, but also feel its spiritual significance. The Basilica is a place of worship and devotion for many faithful, who come to pray and venerate Saint Chrysogonus and other martyrs. You can also join them in celebrating the liturgy and participating in various activities organized by the parish.

Lesser known stories and Interesting Facts

  • The hidden ancient church

    Did you know that beneath the current basilica, there is a 4th-century church that was one of the first parish churches of Rome? You can visit the excavations and see the remains of the original apse, baptistery, frescoes and sarcophagi.

  • The glory of Saint Chrysogonus

    The basilica is dedicated to Saint Chrysogonus, a martyr who was probably killed in Aquileia during the persecution of Diocletian. His cult was transferred to Rome and he became the patron saint of Trastevere. The ceiling of the basilica features a painting by Guercino depicting the glory of Saint Chrysogonus.

  • The Sardinian connection

    For a long time, the basilica served as the national church of Sardinians and Corsicans in Rome. Several commanders of the military unit of the Guardia Corsa are buried here. The chapel of Our Lady of Bonaria, patroness of Sardinia, was added in 1938.

  • The cosmatesque floor

    The floor of the basilica is a splendid example of cosmatesque art, a style of geometric mosaic that flourished in medieval Rome. The floor is made of marble, porphyry and other precious stones, forming intricate patterns and symbols.

  • The Trinitarian presence

    The basilica is served by the Trinitarian Order, founded by Saint John of Matha and Saint Felix of Valois in the 12th century. The order is dedicated to the ransom of Christian captives from Muslim slavery. The coat of arms of the order, featuring a red and blue cross, can be seen in various parts of the basilica.

Historical Background

The basilica of San Crisogono was built in the 4th century under Pope Sylvester I (314–335), on the site of a private house that belonged to a Roman nobleman named Chrysogonus. The house was converted into a church and dedicated to the martyr Saint Chrysogonus, whose relics were brought from Aquileia. The church was one of the tituli, or first parish churches, of Rome.

In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III restored the church and founded a monastery next to it, dedicated to Saints Stephen, Lawrence and Chrysogonus. The monks were of the Byzantine rite and followed the rule of Saint Basil. The church was decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from the lives of these saints.

In the 12th century, under Pope Innocent II (1130–1143), the church was rebuilt in Romanesque style by John of Crema, a cardinal and architect. The bell tower, the portico and some parts of the nave date from this period. The church also received a new high altar with a cosmatesque baldachin.

In the 17th century, under Pope Urban VIII (1623–1644), the church underwent a major renovation funded by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of the pope. The architect Giovanni Battista Soria redesigned the interior in Baroque style, adding chapels, altars, paintings and sculptures. The ceiling was decorated with a painting by Guercino depicting the glory of Saint Chrysogonus.

In 1866, Pope Pius IX entrusted the basilica to the Trinitarian Order, who still serve it today. The order restored some parts of the church and added new decorations. In 1938, they also built a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Bonaria, patroness of Sardinia.

Nearby Restaurants

  • Da Enzo al 29 A cozy trattoria that serves traditional Roman cuisine, such as carbonara, cacio e pepe and artichokes. The ingredients are fresh and local, and the portions are generous. The restaurant is very popular, so make sure to book in advance or arrive early.
  • La Gensola A refined restaurant that specializes in seafood dishes, such as spaghetti with clams, grilled octopus and fried calamari. The menu also offers meat and vegetarian options, as well as desserts and wines. The atmosphere is elegant and romantic.
  • Antica Pesa A historic restaurant that dates back to 1605, when it was a weigh station for farmers. The restaurant offers a modern interpretation of Roman cuisine, with dishes such as lamb chops, gnocchi and tiramisu. The restaurant is frequented by celebrities and politicians, so expect high prices and impeccable service.

Nearby Attractions

  • Santa Maria in Trastevere One of the oldest churches in Rome, founded in the 3rd century and rebuilt in the 12th century. The church is famous for its stunning mosaics, both inside and outside, depicting scenes from the life of Mary. The church also houses a relic of the Holy Crib.
  • Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere The main square of Trastevere, surrounded by colorful buildings and lively cafes. The square is dominated by a fountain that dates from the 17th century and features four lions and a central basin. The square is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike.
  • Ponte Sisto A pedestrian bridge that crosses the Tiber river and connects Trastevere with the historic center of Rome. The bridge was built in the 15th century by Pope Sixtus IV, after whom it is named. The bridge offers a beautiful view of the river and the city skyline.


The basilica of San Crisogono is a hidden gem in the heart of Trastevere, a district that preserves the authentic charm of Rome. The basilica offers a fascinating journey through history, art and spirituality, from the ancient times to the present day. Whether you are interested in the martyrdom of Saint Chrysogonus, the beauty of cosmatesque art, or the secrets of the underground church, you will find something to inspire you at San Crisogono.