Michelangelo’s Church of the Angels in Rome

It’s easy to lose yourself strolling through Rome. The antiquity contrasts the luxury and all of it envelops you in a dreamy haze at every turn. Some of it’s a perfect surprise, like Michelangelo’s Church of the Angels, La Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Via Cernaia 9 ). It sits amid the bustling traffic of Piazza della Repubblica. One step inside its unassuming facade and you know you’ve stepped closer to heaven.

The church was initially designed by Michelangelo in the 16th Century at the command of Pope Pius IV. It seems the Pope didn’t care that the great master was busy painting the Sistine Chapel. Yet, artists can’t refuse a wealthy patron. So, Michelangelo came up with the initial sketches but died before the church was ever completed.

There’s nothing ordinary about this basilica. The esoteric and occult beliefs of the illuminati of the day are evident throughout the structure. A small oculus is positioned the highlight the meridian running down the middle of the church on the summer and winter solstice. The bronze marker was crafted along the meridian which runs through Rome at longitude 12° 30′ E. It’s so accurate that the church’s website lists a timetable of when the sun crosses the internal sundial at solar noon (but the timetable is not always kept up to date – when in Rome!).

The church is the living, breathing soul of Rome and its architecture is ever-evolving. A 20th Century glass dome by Narcissus Quagliata truly reflects its name, Divinity in Light. You gaze upon it and feel uplifted toward the stars and the heavens, even on a rainy day in Rome.

There’s a small museum toward the rear of the church which explains its history and various changing art exhibits and it’s all free to see. A visit to the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri should be on your must-see sites, off the beaten path in Rome.