Skip to content


Museo Leonardo da Vinci is located in the underground vaults of Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo, a historically important 15th Century church located on the northern side of Piazza del Popolo.

Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo is open daily to the public, where visitors are able to enjoy its main attraction – two large original Baroque canvases by Caravaggio. A hidden treat when you step inside!

Our guests regularly combine their visit to the museum with the opportunity to see the original Caravaggio’s on display.


In 1601 Caravaggio finished the Crucifixion of Saint Peter, which hangs opposite its “sister” painting Conversion on the Way to Damascus in the Cappella Cerasi.

The painting illustrates the martyrdom of St. Peter, who insisted that he be crucified upside-down to avoid imitating Christ.

Based on his observations of ordinary people, Caravaggio demonstrates outstanding naturalism in this work of art. Yet, perhaps the most shocking aspect of the painting is the fact that the men tasked with the execution remain anonymous. Amongst the routine lifting and pulling it is easy to lose sight of St Peter’s imminent death.


The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus was commissioned by Monsignor Tiberio Cerasi, treasurer to Pope Clement VIII for his chapel in Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo and was completed by Caravaggio in 1601.

The painting depicts the biblical scene when the Pharisee Saul was converted into a Christian following an appearance from Christ on his way to Damascus.

In the painting, Caravaggio exhibits his mastery of ‘tenebrism’ – a Spanish 17th century’s style of painting of which Caravaggio is the main Italian representative – , as seen in the dramatic manipulation of light and shadow to draw attention to Paul’s moment of religious ecstasy.