The church is one of the oldest parishes of Rome, and represents a splendid example of Renaissance architecture, a treasure waiting to be discovered. The church of Santa Maria del Popolo is located at the north of the square bearing it’, adjacent to the ancient Porta Flaminia. It is a church rich in history and masterpieces: according to tradition in this outlying, almost deserted area rose the tomb of the Domitii family where Emperor Nero was buried. Pope Paschal II commissioned the construction of a chapel in 1099, where Santa Maria del Popolo now stands, to celebrate the liberation of the Holy Sepulchre in the crusades, although legend has it (as shown on the arch which surmounts the altar) that the Virgin appeared in a dream to the Pope to tell him to build a chapel right there where the nefarious Emperor was buried, and whose ghost haunted the area. In 1235 Pope Gregory IX transferred the image of the painted Virgin from Lateran, carried out according to the tradition by St. Luke, and which is still on the high altar, while the chapel was converted into a church to host the Franciscans. The religious complex passed to the Order of the Augustinians of Tuscia in 1250 then in 1472 to the Lombard Congregation, who renovated the church in the Lombard style. In the second half of the fifteenth century it was completely rebuilt by order of Pope Sixtus IV Della Rovere, becoming one of the first Renaissance churches. The first interventions started around 1500, Bramante built the apse choir in a shell shape while Raphael was dedicated to the Chigi Chapel project. During this period many artists left an important example of Renaissance art in Rome: starting from 1490, when Bernardino di Betto, called "Pinturicchio" began the decoration of the Della Rovere chapel and together with his workshop proceeded to fresco many of the chapels inside Santa Maria del Popolo, culminating in the spectacular fresco of the vault of the presbytery. During the following century Pope Alexander VII Chigi, commissioned a restoration and an embellishment of the building to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the greatest architect and sculptor of that century. Bernini worked there with his workshop staff, partially amending the original Renaissance structure. At the start of the nineteenth century, the fifteenth century monastery was destroyed to make way for the square designed by the Italian architect Giuseppe Valadier. The interior of the basilica is divided into three naves, with four chapels on each side ending with a large transept, onto which open four chapels, a dome and a presbytery. The most famous chapels are the Chigi Chapel, designed by Raphael for Agostino Chigi between 1513 and 1514 and restored by Bernini from 1652 to 1656; and the Cerasi Chapel, with The Crucifixion of St. Peter (1601) and The Conversion of St. Paul (1600- 1601) by Caravaggio, and The Assumption of the Virgin by Annibale.