The Basilica of Santa Maria above Minerva (the site was originally a Minervium church) started construction in 1280 by Dominicans monks who built just a central nave and two aisles only. The church is one of the best examples of mediaeval gothic architecture in Rome with a gorgeous ribbed vault ceiling stretching the length of the nave and beautifully pointed arches separating the two aisles on either side.

The church has a colourful history with Saint Catherine of Siena buried under the main altar while her head is buried elsewhere in Siena. Lurking at the back of the church is the Medici Chapel which was built for Pope Leo X, who spent so much money during his reign that he nearly bankrupt the roman church. The beautiful blue and gold ceiling design and (fake) white marble columns were added in 1850's to create a "new splendour" for the ancient building, but was seen to clash with the purity of the architecture at the time.
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