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Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
The Basilica of St John Lateran lies on the boundary of the Vatican City and has been granted a special independent status from the city of Rome by the Pope. It is officially the cathedral of Rome and the seat of the Bishop of Rome. Of Rome's four major basilicas this is the oldest and most important. Amongst Roman Catholics it is referred to as the ecumenical mother church (the mother church of the entire inhabited world). Constructed in the year 324AD the Basilica of St John Lateran has undergone many alterations over the centuries. In 1308 the basilica was partly destroyed by fire so much of what we see today dates from after this time. It is especially famous for its statues of the twelve apostles, dating from the late 17th century. It also contains the tombs of six different Popes. The Basilica of St John Lateran is open daily from 7am until 7pm (6pm in winter), admission is free but donations are welcome. This attraction is well served by public transport. The nearest underground station is San Giovanni.