Learn about the rise of Christianity in Rome on a 3-hour walking tour of some of the Christian basilicas of the city, starting at the papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran. The original adjoining palace was the first official papal residence until the papacy moved to Avignon in 1309. Outside is Rome's largest standing obelisk, while the remains of the Holy Stairs are said to be the ones Christ climbed at his trial.
Continue to the Baptistery of St. John, founded by Pope Sixtus III in 440AD and now restored to its former glory. Admire the octagonal form, centered on a large octagonal basin, and marvel at the 5th-century mosaics in the chapel.
Walk along the Via San Giovanni in Laterano to the Basilica of Saint Clemente. This unique church has a mosaic in the apse and extremely costly marble laid on the floor by the artist Cosmati. The remains of the previous church can now be visited to appreciate its changes over the centuries.
Your next stop is St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli), named after the saint who was chained up and imprisoned by Leo the Great. End your tour at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the 7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome. Once inside, your guide will tell the full story of this important monument and its mosaics, Cappella Sistina, and Cappella Paolina.