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English / USA Language: English / USA

A curious characteristic of Santa Maria Maggiore is that its rear façade almost seems to have more emphasis than the front. In fact, the rear faces a very important and pompous square with the Esquiline Obelisk that was placed there at the behest of Pope Sixtus V. 

The obelisk is the most modest of the four that Sixtus V had erected in Rome, and it comes from the Augustus Mausoleum in Campo Marzio, where it laid divided into four pieces together with its twin, which is now in front of the Quirinal Palace. It is the starting point of a highly fascinating line that ends at Trinità dei Monti, the church of the Spanish Steps. You're probably wondering why the obelisk was put behind the church and not in front of it: it's because the monumental rear of the basilica was not far from the entrance to the papal villa, which was obviously very ennobled by the presence of the new monument!

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