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Travel

Rome: Online travel guide for the Holy Year

Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism has published an online travel guide for the Roman Catholic Holy Year with 20 routes guiding pilgrims through the Eternal City’s 2000-year church and cultural history.

Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism has published an online travel guide for the Roman Catholic Holy Year with 20 routes guiding pilgrims through the Eternal City’s 2000-year church and cultural history.

The routes take the traveler past a total of 354 sights, introducing them with short texts in Italian and English. Included are smartphone-compatible street maps. Guides for completing the tours using public transportation are also downloadable. But, according to the introduction, most of the routes through the twenty centuries can be managed on foot in a single day.

The first route is dedicated to Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome. It leads in 18 stages from the Appian Way with the Catacombs of San Sebastiano and the Church of Domine Quo Vadis to the Mamertine Prison, where St. Peter is said to have been held, and finally, to St. Peter’s Basilica above St. Peter’s traditional grave site. Stops on the return journey are the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and the San Paolo alle Tre Fontane (St. Paul at the Three Fountains) Church, believed to be the site where Paul was beheaded. The second route is devoted to the early Christian martyrs. Highlights are the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus and Saint Cecilia in Trastevere.

Another route connects churches built over or inside heathen temples, among them the Pantheon, the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli on the Capitoline Hill and San Clemente. Other routes lead around the walls of Rome or past the city’s obelisks, its fountains, historical gardens or past venerated icons and images. One tour focuses on buildings and monuments constructed or given a special function during Holy Years, such as the Ponte Sisto, built across the Tiber by Pope Sixtus IV for the Holy Year 1475, and the Passetto di Borgo, built by Pope Nicholas III in the 13th century and running from the Vatican to the Castel Sant’Angelo. There are also routes through the Rome of Michelangelo, Bernini, Goethe and Canova.

Around three million pilgrims have already made their way to Rome since Pope Francis inaugurated the Holy Year of Mercy when he opened the Holy Door to the Vatican on 8 December, 2015. It will come to an end on 20 November, 2016, by which date the Holy See is expecting more than 30 million pilgrims.

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