One of the main attractions on Rome’s historic Caelian Hill, St. Stephen in the Round is an architectural oddity, with its original circular design intact despite alterations in later centuries. This ancient church, along with the equally storied Basilica of Saints John and Paul and the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, are best visited with a guide to appreciate their historical importance. Consider joining a walking, Vespa, or golf cart tour of the Caelian Hill, or a small-group tour dedicated to the earliest Christian churches in the Eternal City. Many tours of the Caelian Hill include skip-the-line access to the Colosseum and Roman Forum, located on the nearby Palatine Hill.
Things to know before you go
- Santo Stefano Rotondo is one of the city’s most fascinating ancient churches, a must for Christian history buffs along with the Basilica of Saints John and Paul.
- Visitors must wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees to enter the church.
- The church is wheelchair accessible.
How to get there
The basilica is located on the Caelian Hill is located adjacent the Palatine Hill in the historic center of Rome. It is an easy walk from the Colosseum and the nearest metro stop is Colosseo, on line B.
When to get there
Though one of the most historically and architecturally significant churches in Rome, Santo Stefano Rotondo is a quiet respite from the crowds in the nearby Colosseum and Forum during peak hours. The church closes briefly at midday and is closed each Monday.
Rome’s Seven Legendary Hills
Basilica of St. Stephen in the Round is located on Caelian Hill, one of the legendary seven hills that formed the geographical heart of ancient Rome. The other hills are Aventine Hill, Capitoline Hill, Quirinal Hill, Viminal Hill, Esquiline Hill, and Palatine Hill, where Romulus is said to have founded the city and where many of Rome’s most famous archaeological ruins are located.
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- Villa Celimontana
- Caelian Hill (Celio)
- Rome Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo
- Case Romane del Celio
- Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati (Basilica dei Santi Quattro Coronati)
- Basilica of San Clemente al Laterano (Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano)
- Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino)
- Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla)
- Palatine Hill (Palatino)
- Golden House of Nero (Domus Aurea)
- Basilica of St. John Lateran (Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano)
- Oppian Hill Park (Parco del Colle Oppio)
- Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta) and Chapel of San Lorenzo
- Domus Augustana