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St. John in Lateran – Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
The basilica – or more correctly Holy Saviour, and the saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist – is the cathedral of Roma. It was built in the form of a basilica with five aisles like the original St. Peter’s; on old constructions; the horse-guards’ barracks of the em-peror, through the interest of Constantine, who gave it to the African Pope, Melchiades. When it was inaugurated in 327, it was dedicated only to the Holy Saviour. Damaged and restored several times, the basilica was always subject of important artistic operations. After those of the Middle Ages, among others there were the lost frescoes by Gentile da Fabriano and Pisanello. The works undertaken under Sixtus V were decisive, the nearby Lateran Palace, residence of Pontif-fs up to the period of the Avignon captivity is also interesting.
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Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – Musica originale di Adel Karanov – Rusrim Video
Apart from the restoration by Borromini, the basilica is noted for the splen-did Facade, built on the design by Alessandro Galilei (finished in 1735). Inside, under the tabernacle is the papal altar (where only the Pontiffs may celebrate mass) where the old wooden altar is preserved. Besides the many works preserved, the cloister of the Vassalletto and the nearby octagonal baptistery also erected by Constantine over a baths building of the 2nd century AD., are of particular importance. The restoration of the basilica was with-out doubt the most important commis-sion given to Borromini.
Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano VIDEO 3D by Adel Karanov
It was Innocent X, Pamphilj, who ordered the restoration of the building that had gone into a state of decay for the Jubilee of 1650. The pope, however, limited the ingenious solutions presented by the archi-tect, since he intended to preserve as much as possible of the previous works. The most dras-tic decision concerned the renunciation of the construction of the vault in the main nave, planned in barrel vaulting of rounded caisson arches, and, instead, stayed with the previous wooden ceiling from halfway through the 1500s. The main nave has pillars with twelve aedicules decorated in the tympanum by the papal dove, in which colossal statues were placed in the 18th century.
The architect arranged the sepulchral fragments from earlier periods of the basilica in a completely original manner, in the side aisles. He placed them in aedicules carved into the wall and embellishing them with decorative items invented by him.
The Saint John Lateran golden ceiling
The land on which Saint John Lateran sits was once the estate of the Laterani family. In the fourth century, Constantine I obtained the estate and leased it to Pope Melchaides. It became the official place of residency for the pope until the papacy’s exile in 1309. Since then, the Basilica has been rebuilt due to an earthquake in 896, and fires in 1308, and in 1360. When the papacy returned, they found that Saint John Lateran was in no way livable—so they moved to the Vatican. Although St. John Lateran’s facade had aged, the 16th century cathedral’s foundation stayed relatively intact. The Basilica of Saint John Lateran was not renovated until Innocent X commissioned Borromini to save the collapsing Basilica.
Focusing on the details of the ceiling, one must first notice the Basilica’s pediments. Their purpose is to evenly distribute the weight of the ceiling while holding it in place. They are detailed with doves, which signify the Pamphili family of Pope Innocent X. Finally, looking to the ceiling one will see the gilded woodwork that was created by Giacomo della Porta (1537-1602). Not only was Giacomo della Porta tutored by Michelangelo, but he also reintroduced the Medieval Italian artwork of Cosmati. This was the style of geometric stonework. Incorporated into the gold coffered ceiling were the coats of arms of Pius IV, Pius V, and Pope Martin. To clarify, the meaning of coffered in the 6th century usually referred to a strongbox that was sumptuously decorated and held valuable things. Therefore, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran can be seen as a treasure box filled with masterpieces from every historic period. In the end, Saint John Lateran played a huge role in the history of Rome, as well as the Roman Catholic Church.
Short film in San Giovanni Laterano Basilica by Giovanni Caloro Music by Adel Karanov
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