It may surprise visitors to Rome, given the city’s intensely Catholic history, that the city also boasts another significant place of worship dedicated to a different religion of middle-eastern origin.
Just as St Peter’s basilica is the largest church in history, the Moschea di Roma is the largest mosque in the western world, and can accommodate up to 12,000 worshippers. It also incorporates the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy.
The mosque is the focal point for worship of the city’s hundred-thousand plus Muslims, who are mainly of Bangladeshi origin, but are also present in notable numbers from Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Turkey, India, various north African countries, and in recent years from Syria.
The land for the mosque was originally designated by the Comune di Roma in 1974, but it was not inaugurated until 1995. Its design is modern Islamic style, incorporating much use of natural light and using traditional Roman building materials such as tavertine. The design project was led by Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi, advised by Iraq-born British architect Sami Mousawi.
Located in an inner suburb of Rome, at the bottom of the slopes of the Villa Ada park, the mosque is visible from the Roma Nord train line, and may be accessed via this train from either the Aqua Acetosa or Monte Antenne stations. The train leaves frequently from Flaminio train station, and can be travelled on using a standard ATAC transportation ticket.
Worshippers may turn up for Friday prayers without appointment and food is often served afterwards.