Both the Piazza and the Basilica are named after the Holy Apostles. Although tradition says the basilica was built in the 3rd century, it actually only dates back to the 6th century.
It is said that marble was taken from Trajan's Forum for its construction and, though there is no way of checking this, it wouldn't surprise us!
The Colonna Pope, Martin V, restored this church to its original splendor when he had the work started on the construction of Palazzo Colonna.
The basilica thereby regained the importance it had enjoyed during the Middle Ages. Like all Roman churches, it is a kind of palimpsest that marks its own history over the centuries.
Pope Sixtus IV built the splendid portico outside the façade. With its nine arches, it remains one of the most extraordinary examples of 15th century architecture.
Sixtus also commissioned the great 15th century master painter, Melozzo da Forli, to decorate the apse. The fresco that he painted there was later detached and divided; today one part is in the Quirinal Palace and the other in the Vatican Pinacoteca.
Michelangelo was buried here after his death, but his body was later stolen and carried off to Florence by his nephew, where he was buried again in Santa Croce.