Weeks 1 & 2 : Le sette chiese privilegiate di Roma
The Seven Churches of Rome.
Unknown Engraver 1589.
This symbolic map is now deemed an inaccurate depiction of the city of Rome and its seven main churches. Rome, in the 16th century, was viewed as the closest thing to the Holy Land that Europeans could travel to. Pilgrims who had come to Rome in order to receive “time off” from Purgatory used this map to get from one church to the other during the 1575 Jubilee. Inaccuracies in distance and proportion caused chaos when pilgrims took this map literally. Pope Sixtus V proposed to renovate the city of Rome in time for the next Jubilee in 1600. He formed a crew of workers and artists to clear out open spaces and place huge monuments in the centers to create markers for pilgrims.
The idea of having seven churches in Rome mirrors the legend of Rome’s seven hills. This is just one example of how the map was more a symbolic piece rather than having a functional purpose. The major churches of Rome include San Pietro (shown in this map before its dome was completed), San Paolo fuori le mura, San Giovanni in Laterano, and San Maria Maggiore.