The Santa Balbina all’Aventino Church is one of the best-preserved early Christian churches in Rome. It is located on a hill called the piccolo Aventino, among picturesque cypress and orange trees. Consequently, the church is often used for weddings. (At the moment however, it is closed for restoration).
Santa Balbina all’Aventino Basilica Rome
The address of the Santa Balbina all’Aventino Church is Piazza di Santa Balbina, 8 – 00153 Rome (tel. +39 06 5780207), but the main entrance is in the Via Baccelli. Neighborhood: Santa Saba. Bus: 160. Opening hours: Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Entrance fee: Free. (To get to the church, you need to walk up the Viale Guido Baccelli, and turn right into a narrow private road when you see a Vivai le Mura sign. Follow this road all the way to the end.)
History and description
The Santa Balbina all’Aventino Church was built in the 4th century, on the site where the Roman consul Fabio Cilone used to live.
The very first restoration took place in the 8th century. This was repeated in 1489 and the last one was in 1928, when the architect Antonio Muñoz had a new mosaic floor installed. The portico and current appearance of the facade also date from that time.
The interior consists of a nave with six niches on either side.
What to see
The already mentioned niches (6 on each side) are alternately round and rectangular, and are decorated with (fragments) of 9th to 14th century frescoes.
The tomb near the entrance was made for Bishop Stefano De Surdis, who died in 1303, and was created by Giovanni De Cosma.
The relics of Saint Balbina, who was martyred and then beheaded by order of Emperor Hadrian, along with those of other saints, are in an urn under the main altar.
At the end of the nave are traces of a mosaic belonging to a 1st-century necropolis found under the Via Imperiale (the original name of the Via Cristoforo Colombo).
In the apse is a bishop’s seat decorated with cosmatesque mosaics.