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Did you know? The church with the dome that can be seen but is not there

In our Rome Tour of the churches there is one that has a dome but in reality it is just an optical illusion. Find out where this particular place is located.

We are talking about the church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola which has a truly unique dome.

The church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola in Campo Marzio is a Catholic place of worship in Rome; in splendid Italian Baroque style, it is adjacent to the Roman College of which it was a university chapel and overlooks Piazza Sant’Ignazio.
The works for the construction of the church began in 1626 and it was dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, who had been canonized on 12 March 1622.

The great patron of the work was Bishop Ludovico Ludovisi, nephew of Pope Gregory XV, who had died in 1623 and had canonized Ignatius of Loyola. The building has been repeatedly attributed to various architects, who worked in the first half of the seventeenth century in Rome: Domenichino, Girolamo Rainaldi, Alessandro Algardi (the majestic facade is still attributed to the latter).

The Church hides a spectacular optical illusion that leaves everyone speechless. To make up for the lack of funds earmarked for the construction of the dome, the Jesuit friar (and painter) Andrea del Pozzo devised an ingenious stratagem.

In the eyes of the visitor the gigantic dome appears in all its splendor, but walking along the nave to see it up close, there is a flattening. An unusual phenomenon that can be easily explained: the dome was never built due to some technical problems.
Andrea del Pozzo, in order not to leave the sacred building incomplete, decided to equip it with a dome, albeit fictitious, by painting it with the trompe-l’oeil technique, creating an optical illusion that would allow it to be perceived three-dimensional if viewed from a certain point of view marked on the pavement.

Del Pozzo placed a perspective painting on canvas above the ceiling which, when viewed from a specific point, gives the impression of being three-dimensional.

To admire this spectacular optical illusion, you have to go to the altar and position yourself on the golden circle found in the marble floor of the central nave. The majestic masonry dome envisaged by the project, perhaps for economic reasons, was never built. It is also said that it was the locals who did not want too large a dome to block the sun from them.

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