Rome Religious Studies Tour
School Religious Studies Trip to Rome
The establishment of Christianity in the Roman Empire is often attributed to the Emperor Constantine but in fact the new religion grew slowly out of Jewish traditions and emerged over the course of several centuries, taking on certain elements of Roman beliefs as it evolved. Indeed the Pope takes his title from a Roman term Pontifex Maximus, meaning the High Priest. After the fall of the Roman Empire the city became the seat of the Papacy, although the rivalry with Constantinople led to the eventual schism between Catholic Rome and the Eastern Orthodox religion which endures to this day. Our tours explore two thousand years of history from the Mamertine Prison which held St Peter and St Paul, the ancient Catacombs where early Christians buried their dead, the imposing Basilica of St Peter’s and the wonderful Sistine Chapel where Bishops meet in conclave to choose the Pope.
The itinerary featured here is intended to give you inspiration and an idea of what you could do on your tour. Your trip will be created individually by one of our travel advisors to match your requirements and budget.
Flight to Rome, Walking Tour of the Historic Centre
Flight to Rome: On arrival you are met at the airport by our guide and private coach and transfer to your central hotel.
Historic Centre Walking Tour: After lunch you have a guided walking tour of the historic centre taking in all the famous sights. You start at the Spanish Steps and soon reach the Trevi where it is traditional to toss a coin into the fountain to ensure a return to the Eternal City. You next cross the Via del Corso, one of Rome’s principal shopping streets, and soon reach the Pantheon which was built by the Emperor Hadrian and later converted to a church. The tour continues to the wonderful Piazza Navona where you can try the world famous tartufo ice cream. You walk through the maze of narrow streets and cross the River Tiber via the Ponte Sant’Angelo, in the shadow of the vast Castel Sant Angelo and finally arrive at the Vatican and St. Peters Square.
You return to your hotel and dinner this evening at a city restaurant.
Vatican Museums and St Peters Basilica
Vatican Museums: This morning you have a guided tour of the Vatican Museums which house one of the most impressive collections of archaeology in the world. Highlights of the tour include the magnificent Gallery of Maps, a stunning collection of frescoes which date from 1580 and depict in glorious colour the Pope’s dominions. The centrepiece is undoubtedly Michelangelo’s extraordinary ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica: You continue to St. Peter’s Basilica where there are many treasures and artworks including the famous Pieta sculpture by Michelangelo. At the altar you see Bernini’s magnificent Baldachin and his final masterpiece, the Monument to Pope Alexander VII, surrounded by the allegorical statues of Justice, Prudence, Charity and Truth, with the Angel of Death holding up the curtains over the Door to Eternity. The tombs of the exiled Stuart monarchs can also be seen, including that of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and in the crypt, you see the tombs of many former Popes stretching back hundreds of years.
Afternoon and Evening: The afternoon will be free for you to explore Rome on your own and dinner this evening will be a city centre restaurant.
Scala Sancta, Papal Basilicas and the Catacombs
Scala Santa: This morning you visit the Scala Sancta, the Holy Stairs, so called because they are said to be the stairs that Jesus climbed on his way to his trial before Pontius Pilate. The stairs are said to have been brought to Rome in the 4th century. Many people will stop and kiss points on the steps where glass reveals what is said to be drops of Christ’s blood.
Papal Basilicas: You continue to the adjacent Papal Basilica of San Giovanni in Lateran, the official Cathedral of the diocese of Rome. You then travel to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls which by tradition contains the Tomb of St. Paul and also displays the chains in which he was brought to Rome for trial.
Catacombs of St. Sebastian: After lunch you visit the ancient Catacombs of St Sebastian. Early Chistians were persecuted by the Roman authorities and they buried their dead outside the city in underground chambers to protect the graves from Roman desecration. The remains of these tombs are the catacombs, hewn into solid rock. You will see a variety of burial chambers including those during the pagan period.
Dinner this evening will be a city centre restaurant.
Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Vittorio Emanuele Monument
Colosseum & Forum: This morning you visit Rome’s most famous sight where gladiators fought. Leaving the Colosseum, you pass by the Arch of Constantine and enter the ruins of the Roman Forum, with its many temples, basilicas, and triumphal arches. This was the place where ordinary Romans would have lived, worked, and traded.
Palatine Hill: Above the forum explore the Palatine Hill where the ruins of its ancient palaces were once the home of Emperors and the site of temples. Today the Palatine Hill is cloaked in beautiful cypress trees and wildflower meadows.
Lunch: There will be time for lunch near the Colosseum where there are many options.
Vittorio Emanuele Monument: At Piazza Venezia you can see the dazzling white marble of the Vittorio Emanuele Monument, the Altar of the Fatherland. This was built in the late 19th century as a memorial to Italy’s unifying Monarch, and now incorporates the memorial to Italy’s unknown soldier. Take the elevator to the top for a spectacular view across the city.
Dinner this evening will be a city centre restaurant.
Jewish Quarter and Campo di Fiore
Jewish Quarter and Great Synagogue: This afternoon you explore the historic Jewish Quarter where you guide will explain the dark history of this area. In 1555 the Pope issued a Bull removing most rights from Jews and requiring them to relocate to a small area which was walled in and locked at night. This became the Jewish Ghetto and was only formally abolished in 1882. Indeed, it was the last in Europe until the rise of the Nazis. A plaque in the Ghetto commemorates the date of 16 October 1943 when the city’s Jews were forcibly deported.
Campo di Fiore: You continue to Campo di Fiore, one of Rome’s most famous market squares, offering a chance to see today’s Romans going about their everyday lives. Campo di Fiore literally means Field of Flowers and there is still a flower market here to this day although replica Roma and Lazio football shirts provide a more lucrative trade for the market stalls.
Flight Home: In the afternoon you transfer to the airport for your flight home.
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