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Rome unveils ancient underground basilica after facelift

World News | Published:

The structure, near a gateway to ancient Rome known as Porta Maggiore, dates from the 1st century.

Italy Underground Basilica

An ancient underground basilica that only came to light a century ago has had a facelift in Rome, and its refreshed splendor has been unveiled.

The structure, near a gateway to ancient Rome known as Porta Maggiore, dates from the first century.

Italy Underground Basilica
An inside view of the underground Basilica of Porta Maggiore (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA/AP)

Its original use is a mystery. Some scholars think it served as a place for followers of a cult, while others say it was probably a funerary hall.

Water infiltrating from above had left its inner walls encrusted with mould, bacteria and calcium deposits.

The basilica is decorated with splendid stucco work depicting mythological figures and daily life scenes.

Italy Underground Basilica
Scenes on the wall of the basilica (Fabio Frustaci/ANSA/AP)

Discovered in 1917 during excavation for a nearby rail line, its layout is considered the earliest known architectural example in Rome of the famed basilica layout.

A Swiss foundation dedicated to the restoration of artwork and monuments paid for the cleaning of the basilica.

Tourists can visit on the second, third and fourth Sundays of each month on reservation.

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