Lateran Baptistery Rome (San Giovanni in Fonte)

The Lateran Baptistry (Battistero Lateranense) is an ancient buidling next to the Basilica of St. John in Lateran in Rome. Emperor Constantine himself is said to have been baptized here. The actual name of the chapel is San Giovanni in Fonte.

Battistero Lateranense Rome

Useful information

The address of the Battistero Lateranense is Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, 4 – 00184 Rome (tel. +39 0669886452 ). Metro: San Giovanni. Bus: 16, 51, 85, 87, 186. Opening hours: 9.00-12.30 / 16.00-18.30. Entrance fee: Free.

History and description

Lateran Baptistery Rome
Lateran Baptistery

The official name of the Battistero Lateranense is San Giovanni in Fonte. It was built by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, along with the Basilica of St. John of the Lateran, on the site where a 1st century villa and a bathhouse previously stood.

It required frequent restoration over the centuries.

The exterior frieze is decorated with the coats of arms of the Chigi family and was made by Francesco Borromini in 1657.

The architrave above the old entrance dates back to Roman times. The bronze doors were made by Pietro and Umberto da Piacenza towards the end of the 12th century.

The interior of the Baptistry is octagonal. In the center there is a ring of eight columns supporting an architrave that is also octagonal. Above this is a second row of eight smaller, white marble columns.

The top part of the walls is decorated with copies of paintings by Andrea Sacchi, depicting events in the life of John the Baptist.

The lower frescoes depict events from the life of Emperor Constantine and were created by A. Camassei, G. Gimignani, C. Maratta, and others.

The baptismal font is protected by a circular gate. It consists of a green basalt urn with a bronze lid from the 17th century by Ciro Ferri.

The mosaic in the small apse dates back to the 5th century.

Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, 4 – Rome