Rome, Italy. The basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva at night.

- Image ID: BDW7T0
Rome, Italy. The basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva at night.
Lautaro / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: BDW7T0
Rome, Italy. The basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The church, the only example of (interior) gothic medieval architecture in Rome, underwent many transformations in its long history. The name comes from the Roman temple of Minerva Chalcidica which occupied the area where the church was built (actually three different Roman temples were now found in the area). In the church are buried Saint Catherine from Siena, the painter Beato Angelico, and the popes Leo X Medici and Clement VII Medici. The façade as it appears today is mainly the result of the work by Carlo Maderno in 1600 who followed the renaissance model of the church Santa Maria in Aracoeli. It is the mother church of the Dominican order. In front of it, a small elephant, Nicknamed in Rome "il pulcino della Minerva" (the chick of the Minerva square), carries on his back a small obelisk which is an original egyptian obelisk dating from the 6th century b.C.. The original design by Bernini wanted the space under the belly of the elephant to be empty, like in nature. The weight of the elephant and of the obelisk should have rested entirely on the four legs of the elephant. The design was judged to be too daring. The actual realization, by Ercole Ferrata, is much more conventional (the elephant does not rest on his legs). The nickname Pulcino ("purcino" in Roman dialect) might be a deformation of the word Porcino, little pig, as the shape of the animal reminded that of a pig. On the left, the entrance of the Complesso del Seminario, where Galileo Galilei was tried by the Inquisition.
Location: Rome Roma [centro storico] [historical centre center]