The Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, or known as Sant’Ignazio Church, is a Jesuit Church that was built in the 1600s with a rich and fascinating history.
You can visit Rome many times and still never see everything you may want to see. It is a city packed with more history than you can think of and architecture from all through the ages. Every time you turn a corner in this ancient city you find a new treasure to explore.
Of course everyone knows of the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain etc.. I was excited to see deeper into Rome and places I had never heard of too. A tip I shall never forget was The Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.
Seemingly hidden away, not too far Eastwards from the Pantheon this fantastic building has a huge front that tempts many a visitor inside.
The original church was attached adjacent to The Roman College (Collegio Romano) and opened in 1551. A very humble looking building to start with.
Before long it began to become too small to cater for the 2000 plus students coming to study at the college. So the plan was to build a new church in 1626 especially after the canonization of Ignatius of Loyola. It was finally completed by 1650.
I sat on the steps leading up the entrance and just looked up in awe at the architecture. The church architect was Orazio Grassi. The facade is truly mesmerising.
However, even all that cannot prepare you for the immense sights inside and the painting work throughout from way on high on the ceiling to below.
With 3 chapels on either side the church is internally shaped like a Latin Cross. As soon as you enter you feel the huge grandeur of the place.
It was designed to look sumptuous and yes, it certainly does look sumptuous. Extremely high and ornament adorned ceilings. Gilding , statues and ornamented stone in every direction you look.
But the one thing that had me in awe was the painted ceiling.
3D Dome Illusion and The Painted Ceiling
Andrea Pozzo of the Jesuit order painted the nave ceiling aspects. In all it celebrates the work of Saint Ignatius and the Society of Jesus.
You stand in the middle of the church and look up. There you will look up and into what really looks like a dome interior.
In fact it is not a dome at all, it is an optical illusion. When the church was built there was not enough funds to build a dome.
The great dome (or so you think) that you see above you is actually a flat painting with 3D effect. A trompe l’oeil painting. If you are inside the building and you look at it from almost all angles, it really does look like it is a dome.
Every inch of this building inside has such fine beauty and detail. You walk around and around to take closer looks at everything.
However then you turn round and see the rest of the place in so many different angles that mesmerised is not a strong enough word to describe the feeling I had.
To the left and to the right of the main area there are side chapels that seem to transform you to a whole new great church of their own accord.
A top tip is to not just stay in the centre of the building which is where many stop, stay and stare. Wander behind all the pillars and you will find many many treasures for the eyes.
And a whole lot more to explore.