Last of the Major Basilica's of Rome after St. Peter's, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. John Lateran, the Basilica of Saint Mary Major remains a territory of the Holy See (though being outside Vatican City) and an important Church. Situated in the center of Rome, a few blocks from the "Termini" train station, Maria Maggiore is easily accessible and central to the city of Rome.
The exterior of the basilica features a grand, ornate facade with winged depictions of angels and saints, and is surrounded by rows of boxed and ionic columns. Entering the church one will find more rows of columns, as well as an ornate floor and walls with dozens and dozens of elegant pieces of art with the baldacchino by the altar towering above the viewer. Yet it is not these grand designs which is the principal draw of this basilica, for beneath this canopy down a short staircase sits a relic of the manger in which Christ was born. "Saint Mary ad Praesepe" the church was once called, or "Saint Mary of the Manger". Relics of such close proximity to Christ himself, and not one of his followers, are relatively rare and they make this basilica all the more special.
Every one of the four major basilicas are an invaluable experience, and Santa Maria Maggiore is no exception.