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Rome Attractions Santa Maria della Vittoria

Finding Serenity in the Heart of Rome: A Visit to The Church of 
Santa Maria della Vittoria

Imagine yourself returning to the lavish splendor of the 17th century, where Baroque art and architecture reigned supreme. Step into the breathtaking Santa Maria della Vittoria, nestled in the heart of Rome, and prepare to be awestruck by its opulence and grandeur.

As you enter, you will be greeted by a sight that will take your breath away, which can only be described as a feast for the senses. But that is just the beginning of the wonders that await within the walls of this magnificent church.

History and Foundation

The history and foundation of Santa Maria della Vittoria can be traced back to the early 16th century when a convent was founded on the site of an ancient hermitage. This significant event began a long and rich history for the church. The construction of Santa Maria della Vittoria took place during a time of great historical context, as the area was once used for hunting by Roman nobility.

The church itself was built by the Discalced Carmelite Friars in 1607, and its initial purpose was to serve as the Novitiate for the Order or a missionary seminary.

Artistic influences played a crucial role in the construction of Santa Maria della Vittoria. Carlo Maderno, one of the leading architects of the time, directed the initial construction in 1608. Later, Giovanni Battista Soria designed the façade of the church, showcasing the influence of nearby Santa Susanna.

Religious practices were also central to the foundation of Santa Maria della Vittoria. The church was dedicated to St. Paul and named San Paolo alla Fontana Felice. Furthermore, Cardinal Scipione Borghese played a significant role in the construction funding by obtaining a pagan statue in exchange.

The Façade

As we focus on The Façade, let’s examine the external features of Santa Maria della Vittoria that contribute to its grandeur and aesthetic appeal.

  • The church’s façade, designed by Giovanni Battista Soria, is built out of travertine over two stories, showcasing the use of white limestone in its construction. The exterior of the church is deceptively simple compared to the grandeur inside.
  • The design of the façade was inspired by Carlo Maderno’s nearby church of Santa Susanna, which has a tall door accessed by a short flight of steps. The lower story propylaeum brings forward the central part of the façade, while the second story central portion is recessed.
  • The façade features a large round-headed window flanked by a pair of Doric pilasters and gigantic volutes with cute little dragons and eagles sitting on them. Four Corinthian pilasters support a blank entablature and triangular pediment, adding to the architectural details and decorative elements of the façade.
  • Compared to other churches, Santa Maria della Vittoria’s façade stands out for its simplicity and elegance, emphasizing a balance between the classical and baroque styles.
  • Efforts have been made to restore and preserve the façade of Santa Maria della Vittoria, ensuring that its architectural details and symbolism continue to captivate visitors and serve as a testament to its historical and artistic significance.

The Interior

Step inside Santa Maria della Vittoria and prepare to be immersed in the opulent world of Baroque art and architecture.

The church’s interior is a testament to the extravagant style of the period, with its excessive ornamentation and gilding. As you enter, you’ll be greeted by giant Corinthian pilasters that support the entablature, creating a sense of grandeur.

However, the true highlight of the interior is the Cornaro Chapel, which houses Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s masterpiece sculpture, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.

Baroque Ornamentation and Gilding

Baroque ornamentation and gilding inside Santa Maria della Vittoria immerses visitors in a lavish display of artistic extravagance. The interior of the church is a testament to the influence of Bernini, with its grandeur and attention to detail.

One of the most controversial and talked-about pieces is Bernini’s sculpture, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, which depicts Saint Teresa of Avila in a state of divine ecstasy. This masterpiece is carved out of Carrara marble, showcasing the skill and craftsmanship of the artist.

The use of Carrara marble throughout the interior adds to the opulence of the space. Another significant feature is the Madonna Regina della Vittoria, a symbol of victory and the church’s patron saint.

The interpretation of baroque art can be seen in the excessive ornamentation and gilded details, creating a visually stunning experience for visitors.

Giant Corinthian Pilasters

Inside Santa Maria della Vittoria, the grandeur of the Baroque style is evident in the presence of giant Corinthian pilasters that adorn the church’s interior. These ornate architectural details, with their elaborate capitals and intricate carvings, draw the eye and captivate the viewer.

The use of Corinthian pilasters in the church’s design was influenced by the artistic trends of the time, particularly the works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. These pilasters serve a decorative purpose and hold religious symbolism, representing strength and stability.

Additionally, the controversial sculpture, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, is housed in the Cornaro Chapel, further enhancing the overall interior design of the church.

The combination of the giant Corinthian pilasters, other ornate details, and the iconic sculpture creates a truly awe-inspiring atmosphere within Santa Maria della Vittoria.

Bernini’s Masterpiece Sculpture

As you continue your exploration of the grandeur of Santa Maria della Vittoria, the church’s interior unveils Bernini’s masterpiece sculpture, captivating visitors with its unparalleled artistry and emotional depth.

The sculpture in the Cornaro Chapel depicts Saint Teresa of Avila having a vision of divine love. Carved from a single block of Carrara marble, the statue portrays Saint Teresa rising from her bed with an expression of ecstasy.

Bernini’s artistic techniques, such as realistic details and dramatic lighting, bring the scene to life, evoking a sense of awe and wonder. The sculpture’s symbolic interpretation within the religious context of the church adds to its historical significance.

Despite its controversial reception during its time, Bernini’s masterpiece continues to inspire and move visitors with its profound beauty.

The nave, dome, sanctuary, choir, and sacristy of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome offer a captivating blend of architectural grandeur and artistic beauty.

The nave is designed with three bays and is flanked by aisles on either side. The Corinthian pilasters with gilded capitals separate the nave arcade arches, creating a visually striking effect. Above, a shallow ceiling barrel vault with lunette windows adds an airy and spacious feel.

The church’s dome features a mesmerizing fresco painted by Cerrini depicting heavenly beings.

Moving towards the sanctuary, one is greeted by the ornate architecture that characterizes the area. The apse walls are adorned with intricate foliated bronze screens, while the doors into the friar choir on either side of the apse add a sense of mystery and exclusivity.

One can find a painting by Gherardo Olandese inside the choir depicting St. Paul with Putti, along with a collection of captured Ottoman Turkish battle standards.

Finally, the sacristy of Santa Maria della Vittoria features various notable features, such as Domenichino’s Madonna della Rosa and the tombstone of Cardinal Sebastiano Antonio Tanara.

Combining these elements creates a truly awe-inspiring and spiritually rich experience for visitors.


Let’s now focus on the chapels within the Santa Maria della Vittoria.

The church has several chapels, each with unique features and dedications. Among them are the Chapel of St. Teresa, the Chapel of St. Francis, the Chapel of Our Lady, the Chapel of St. Joseph, and the Chapel of St. Teresa of Avila.

These chapels provide visitors a rich and diverse experience, showcasing different saints and their contributions to the Catholic faith.

Chapel of St. Teresa

Located within the Santa Maria della Vittoria church in Rome, the Chapel of St. Teresa stands as a testament to the exquisite artistry and devotion of the Baroque era. This chapel, dedicated to St. Teresa of Avila, is a masterpiece of artistic interpretation, showcasing the talents of renowned sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

The chapel’s centerpiece is Bernini’s famous sculpture, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, known for its intricate details and lifelike portrayal. The symbolism in the sculpture is rich, depicting St. Teresa having a vision of divine love.

The historical significance of this chapel lies in its role as a devotional space, inspiring religious devotion among visitors. However, its controversial reception at the time of its creation added to its allure and mystique. Today, the Chapel of St. Teresa continues to captivate and inspire with its stunning artistry and spiritual significance.

Chapel of St. Francis

Continuing our exploration of the chapels within the Santa Maria della Vittoria church in Rome, we now focus on the Chapel of St. Francis.

This chapel holds great religious significance and is adorned with artistic details that exemplify the Baroque style. The chapel’s architectural features include a small altar, intricate frescoes, and ornate sculptures.

The historical context of the chapel is rooted in the devotion to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. The artwork within the chapel depicts scenes from the life of St. Francis, showcasing his humility, love for nature, and devotion to God.

The Chapel of St. Francis offers visitors a serene and contemplative space, inviting them to reflect on the saint’s teachings and solace in his example.

Chapel of Our Lady

The Chapel of Our Lady, located within the Santa Maria della Vittoria church in Rome, is a sacred space dedicated to the veneration of the Virgin Mary. This Lady’s shrine holds great religious significance and is adorned with artistic details that reflect its cultural influences.

As you enter the chapel, you’ll be captivated by the hidden treasures within its walls. Here are some of the highlights you can expect to find:

  • Intricate frescoes depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary
  • Exquisite marble statues of the Madonna and Child
  • Ornate altarpieces adorned with precious gems and gold leaf
  • Delicate stained glass windows that bathe the chapel in a heavenly glow

The Chapel of Our Lady offers a serene and contemplative atmosphere, inviting visitors to reflect on the deep devotion and reverence for the Virgin Mary. It’s truly a remarkable space that showcases the splendor of religious art and the enduring legacy of faith.

Chapel of St. Joseph

One of the notable chapels within the Santa Maria della Vittoria church is the Chapel of St. Joseph. Visitors can find a serene space dedicated to the veneration of this important saint. St. Joseph holds a significant role in Catholicism as the earthly father of Jesus and the husband of the Virgin Mary.

The Chapel of St. Joseph is rich in symbolism and significance, representing the virtues of humility, obedience, and faith that St. Joseph embodies. Within the chapel, visitors can admire the artwork and decorations that depict scenes from St. Joseph’s life, such as the Flight into Egypt and the Holy Family.

Many historical events and stories are associated with St. Joseph, including his protection of the Holy Family and his role as a patron saint of workers. Devotion and prayers dedicated to St. Joseph are encouraged in the chapel, providing a spiritual space for visitors to deepen their connection with this beloved saint.

Access and Liturgy

Visiting Santa Maria della Vittoria provides convenient access to the church’s exquisite Baroque interior and the opportunity to participate in liturgical services. The church offers a range of liturgical practices and religious services for the church community to engage in. These services provide worshippers with spiritual experiences and allow them to connect with their faith meaningfully.

The church follows worship traditions passed down through generations, creating a sense of continuity and reverence. Whether attending Mass on weekdays or Sundays, worshippers can immerse themselves in the sacred atmosphere of Santa Maria della Vittoria. It’s important to note that only worshippers are allowed inside the church during Masses, ensuring a focused and intimate environment for those seeking spiritual solace.

The specific times for Mass vary, and you should check the schedule to plan your visit accordingly. While the church doesn’t hold Mass in the summer, there are designated dates for Mass during this time. Santa Maria della Vittoria offers a visually stunning experience and a chance to engage in the church community’s rich liturgical and worship traditions.


Located in the heart of Rome, Santa Maria della Vittoria is a prominent church that offers a visually stunning experience and a chance to engage in the church community’s rich liturgical and worship traditions. 

When planning your visit to Santa Maria della Vittoria, consider the following:

  • Best time to visit: It’s recommended to visit early in the day to avoid crowds and fully appreciate the artwork and architectural features of the church.
  • Transportation options: The church is easily accessible by public transport, with various bus and tram stops nearby. It’s also within walking distance from other popular tourist destinations in the city center.

With its central location, famous artworks, and rich history, Santa Maria della Vittoria is a must-visit destination for art and architecture enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the beauty and grandeur of Rome.

When exploring the vibrant city of Rome, you’ll find many popular attractions near Santa Maria della Vittoria. One of the notable attractions nearby is the Fountain of Moses. This imposing and controversial structure stands out with its grandeur.

Another popular site is the church, which gained fame through its appearance in Dan Brown’s novel Angels & Demons and its subsequent movie adaptation. Santa Maria della Vittoria is renowned for its High Baroque art and architecture, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

Inside the church, you can admire the extravagant interior with its excessive gilding, colored marble, and intricate Baroque ornamentation. Notable works of art, such as The Dream of Joseph and Cardinal Berlinghiero Gessi’s funeral monument, can be found within the church.

Additionally, the church is conveniently located in the city center, making it easily accessible by public transport. So, while exploring Santa Maria della Vittoria, be sure to take the opportunity to visit these other popular Rome attractions nearby.


In conclusion, Santa Maria della Vittoria is a testament to the beauty and history of Baroque art and architecture in Rome. Its opulent interior, highlighted by the Cornaro Chapel and Bernini’s masterpiece, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, leaves visitors in awe.

This church’s dedication to the Madonna Regina della Vittoria adds another layer of significance to its rich heritage. As you explore this captivating place, you’ll uncover hidden treasures and stories that will transport you back in time, making it a must-visit attraction in Rome.

What is the Church of Santa Maria Della Vittoria?

The Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria is a Catholic titular church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Rome, Italy. It is known for its exquisite Baroque architecture and Bernini’s masterpiece “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa”.

What Can I See at the Church of Santa Maria Della Vittoria?

The Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria houses many artistic treasures, most notably the marble sculpture “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. You can also admire its beautiful frescoes, ornate altars, and intricate stucco work.

Where is the Church of Santa Maria Della Vittoria Located?

The Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria is in Piazza di Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome, Italy.

Is It Possible to Attend a Mass at the Church of Santa Maria Della Vittoria?

Yes, attending a mass at the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria is possible. It’s recommended to check their official website or contact them directly for up-to-date information on service times.

Do I Need to Pay an Entry Fee to Visit the Church of Santa Maria Della Vittoria?

Generally, entry into Catholic churches in Rome, including the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, is free. However, donations are always appreciated for maintenance and preservation purposes.

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