Not far from the busy and popular Piazza Navona in Rome is the Santa Maria della Pace church, which has a Baroque facade on a 15th-century church.
The front of the existing church was redesigned in the mid-17th century at the behest of Pope Alexander VII, including the lovely semicircular entrance lined with columns. The architect, Pietro da Cortona, also had some neighboring buildings destroyed to open up the little piazza around the church more.
Inside, the main attractions are artistic and predate the 17th-century work on the facade. A large Raphael fresco of the “Four Sibyls” is over the altar in the Chigi Chapel, painted in 1514. The Ponzetti Chapel contains a Peruzzi fresco of the “Madonna and Child,” and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger designed the Cesi Chapel.
Behind the church is the rest of the complex, including a large cloister built by Bramante between 1500-1504. Today, part of the cloister serves as an exhibition space for which tickets are required. Exhibitions rotate regularly.
In the coffee shop on the top level of the cloisters, there is a Sybils’ Hall that has a glass wall that looks right into the church. From this vantage point, you get a wonderful view of Raphael’s “Four Sibyls,” and there’s an audio-visual guide to explain what you’re seeing.