Before and After (and Before): Santa Maria in Cosmedin

Left is the 18th century facade. Right the restored facade as it stands today.

Many of our readers may not be aware that the minor Roman basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, as it is seen today, was not how it looked for the period of about 200 years -- most of the 18th and 19th centuries.  Like so many churches of Rome, the original church facade underwent revisions over the course of its history  -- something made evident by later styles still accompanied by Romanesque bell-towers. In the case of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, this process began in 1718. Here is how the facade looked from this point until the late 19th century:

In the latter part of the 19th century, from 1894-1899, these 18th century additions were removed to bring the facade back to something more closely approximating its original appearance:

A drawing of the facade as it appeared in 1645. Depicted by Antonio Tempesta in his "Plan of the City of Rome." 

The end result was the basilica we know today:

A restoration/renovation such as this is bound to excite some strong differences in opinion of course.  Some will support this sort of work as helping to bring back some of the pre-Counter Reformation character of Rome while others will call it an archeologism.  

We shall leave it to readers to debate the relative merits of this sort of project.  Our purpose here today is not to offer any position one way or another on it, but simply bring it to the attention of our readers who may not have known about it. 

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