This 3-hour afternoon guided tour of Christian Rome is an excellent way to learn the history of the faith and the city. After getting picked up at your hotel and meeting your guide, learn about the early history of the Church in Rome and how the city was a major influence on Christianity today.
Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, a cavernous 5th-century church that today has a Baroque appearance. Stroll around the huge church with your guide learning about the history of the building and then head to San Giovanni in Laterano, otherwise known as the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the historic and official church of the pope. Go inside and walk around and then head next door to the Lateran Palace where the supposed steps of Pontius Pilate, known from the Biblical account of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, exist. Today pilgrims ascend the 28 steps on their knees.
At the top of the steps is the Holy of Holies, otherwise known as the Sancta Sanctorum, the erstwhile resting place for some of the most legendary relics in Church history: a chunk of the table that held the Last Supper, the heads of Saints Peter and Paul and the Holy Foreskin, the only piece of flesh Christ could have conceivably left on Earth, said to have been given to Pope Leo III by Charles the Great in 800 AD.
Next, trace the Appian Way, the famous ancient Roman road, passing the Chapel of Domine Quo Vadis, reputed to stand where St Peter saw a vision of the risen Christ.
Arrive at Rome’s catacombs – the nearly 186 miles (300 kilometers) of tunnels used as burial chambers and hideouts by early Christians. Then, depending on accessibility, explore the San Castillo, Santa Domitilla or San Sebastiano tunnels to see the burial niches, frescoes and other treasures lying inside.
Lastly, take in views of the Baths of Emperor Caracalla, the ruins of a 3rd-century Roman bathhouse. Then, end your tour at the start point or your choice of several city-center locations.