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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art

Rome: Lateran Palace

Situated near the Porta S Giovanni, the Lateran is a complex comprising the former papal palace, the basilica of S Giovanni in Laterano and the baptistery. It was the popes’ main residence before their departure to Avignon in 1308.

The medieval papal residence at the Lateran was abandoned by the popes on their return from Avignon in favour of the Vatican and was derelict by the late 16th century. Sixtus V removed all traces of the medieval buildings just two months after his enthronement in 1585, except for the Scala Sancta, the Sancta Sanctorum (the papal private chapel of S Lorenzo), both of which were incorporated into a new building (1586–9) by Domenico Fontana, and part of the triclinium of Leo III rebuilt by Ferdinando Fuga in 1741–4.

Bettina Burkart