You walk towards St. Peter's Basilica and immediately you are struck by its facade. This was designed by Carlo Maderno and completed in 1614. Here again, the emphasis is on hugeness. The facade is 376 ft (114.69 m) wide and 157 ft (48 m) tall. The central portion, the tympanum, has a beam (balustrade) running right through with 13 statues - all 20 ft (6 m) high. Below this there are 9 windows, 3 of which have balconies. It is from the central balcony that the Pope gives his blessings immediately after his election and during Christmas and Easter.
Firstr Written: Oct. 02, 2012
You look up and you see the dome, a sight that is unmistakable from all over Rome. Designed by Michelangelo, it has an inner and an outer dome, with an inner diameter of 140 ft (42.56 m). From the base to the top of the cross, it measures almost 450 ft (136 m). The great artist began work on it in 1547 but his pupil, Giacomo Della Porta, completed it in 1590 after the death of Michelangelo. It has been a source of inspiration to Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, Les Invalids in Paris and the Capitol building in Washington.
First Written: Oct. 02, 2012
When you enter the hallowed St. Peter's Square, you are overwhelmed by its vastness. It was designed and built by Bernini between 1656 and 1667, during the time of Pope Alexander VII. It is 1,050 ft (320 m) long and 790 ft (240 m) wide. If you have the time, you can count 284 columns all around it, in sets of four and 88 pilasters (rectangular columns projecting a few inches from a wall and acting like an ornamental motif). There are 140 statues of saints, all over 10 feet (3.20 m) high above the columns. Two large fountains flank the obelisk, one built by Maderno (1614) and the other by Bernini (1675). The entire visual effect is of a warm embrace with the encircling columns wrapping you round in ecclesiastical fervour.
First Written: Oct. 02, 2012
The Apostle to whom Christ figuratively gave the keys of Heaven lies buried within St. Peter's Basilica. He suffered martyrdom by being crucified, head down, during Nero's persecution of the Christians in 64 AD. It was only after Emperor Constantine's Edict of Milan in 313 AD that Churches were allowed to be constructed. This paved the way for the construction of this Church and its consecration in 329 AD.
The passage of time took its toll on this Church, so much so that in 1505, Pope Julius II commissioned Donato Bramante to rebuild the Basilica. The great architect designed a Greek cross-shaped building (a cross with four equal arms rather than a Latin cross where the horizontal arm is placed higher on the vertical arm). Construction began in April, 1506 but was halted when both the Pope as well as Bramante died in 1513 and 1514, respectively.
Then followed a period of indecision, uncertainty, vacillation and intense debate over the basic design of the basilica - whether to continue with the Greek cross shape or switch over to the Latin cross. Finally, after 33 years, Pope Paul II accepted Michelangelo's new design of sticking to Bramante's original design and placing a huge dome, like that in the Pantheon, over the altar. Giacomo della Porta, a student of Michelangelo, completed the project after the demise of the latter in 1564. Ultimately, the Latin cross design held sway with Carlo Maderno working on the facade of the Basilica between 1607 and1612.
It was left to Bernini who designed the huge columns in St. Peter's Square between 1656 and 1667. His entire effect was to centre these columns round the 1st. century BC obelisk placed there in 1585 by Domenico Fontana.
First Written: Oct. 02, 2012
We stopped for a really good pizza and cappuccino outside the Vatican museum before walking to San Pietro’s Basilica (St. Peter’s Basilica). As you enter the Piazza San Pietro it’s easy to imagine how it must be when thousands and thousands of worshipper’s gather to hear one of the Pope’s sermons, which he delivers from a balcony above. After a(nother) security check, we entered the church. It is really amazing - the altars, the ceiling, the stained glass windows – and it is enormous!
We walked around for quite a while before getting on a very, very long line to make the climb to the top of the Basilica. It turned out that there was one very slow ticket man for hundreds and hundreds of people on line – in addition to one elevator that took about 10 people at a time up to the first level. After taking the elevator up the equivalent of 230 steps, we now had to climb 320 steps. The stairs were very narrow (claustrophobic!) and many portions wound around and around like in a lighthouse. Before the last part of the climb we reached a walkway around the top of the dome that was inside the church. It was pretty cool to look down on the people in the church who looked like ants! Fortunately we had a nice clear day and our reward for the long, hard climb was a spectacular view of Rome. The climb is a must do!
Seeing the Pope: The easiest way to get tickets just days before the Wednesday General Audience with the Holy Father is to go to St. Peter's Square, find the Bronze Doors to the Apostolic Palace, and request them from the Swiss Guards.
On Sundays at noon, the pope usually (if he's in town) appears at the second window from the right of the Apostolic Palace, to pray the Angelus and bless the crowd in the Square. Benedict XVI has continued this tradition, no ticket required.
St. Peter's Basilica is open daily, Apr-Sep 7:00-19:00; Oct-Mar 7:00-18:00
Treasury Museum: 9:00 - 18:15 (Apr - Sep) 9:00 - 17:15 p.m. (Oct - Mar)
Grottoes: 7:00-18:00 (Apr - Sep) 7:00-17:00 (Oct - Mar)
Cupola: 8:00 - 18:00 (Apr - Sep) 8:00 - 16:45 (Oct - Mar)
Basilica (including grottoes) is free.
Stairs to the dome €7; elevator to the dome €6.
Dress code: The Dress Code is strictly enforced at St. Peter's Basilica. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts. This applies to both men and women. Even if you get through security, you will be turned away by the attendants at the door.
Photography: Permitted throughout (except in special necropolis tour).
All visitor information is correct as of this writing.
Sain Peter’s Basilica is localized at Vaticano’s entrance. The construction began in 1506 and it ended by 1626. It is an architectural master piece inside and outside. Inside you have an overwhelming luxury full of marbles and gold.
The entrance is free but it would be good if you get there by entrance time, otherwise you may face a big queue since everyone has to pass through a metal detector.
You can also climb to the Basilica’s cupola if you pay 6€ (stairs) or 7€ (elevator). You will probably want to use the elevator on your way up and use the stairs on your way down.
Important: Vatican has a dress code that you have to follow in order to get inside “The Dress Code is strictly enforced at St. Peter's Basilica. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts. This applies to both men and women. Even if you get through security, you will be turned away by the attendants at the door. On a hot summer day, I've seen dozens of men in shorts turned away.”
Do not leave Rome without visiting San Pietro! We were overwhelmed by its beauty and its greatness.
As we have read later on, this beautiful cathedral have replaced the old San Pietro Church (built by the Emperor Constantin), considered too small to represent the power of Vatican and the Christianity.
The most important artifact is of course the tomb of St Peter the main "responsible" for spreading his religion on those places.
The construction of the new San Pietro took place over more than a century, all the big architects of Italy being involved somehow in it… Donato Bramante-first designer of the new church, Giuliano da Sangallo, Giovanni Giocondo, Raffaello (Sanzio da Urbino), Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi, Giulio Romano, Michelangelo (di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni), Carlo Maderno…
Most of them have lost their lives working at the church and most of them are recognised as Masters of the Renaissance architecture, looking at this church you'll understand why.
I have to recognise that they have done together a very good job and being there, in San Pietro you'll be impressed too by the majesty of the construction.
Actually, as I see it, the entire building is a living history of architecture and you can find here elements from all periods, all together giving the overall unicity.
Admission is free and we were lucky not to stay too long in a queue
The church of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) is totally unattractive in its exterior aspect. Those who aren't informed about its interiors and what is preserved there could easilly skip it wehn strolling around.
Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the future Pope Julius II, ordered Michelangelo to build him a funeral monument, and the first statue by the artist, the Moses, is the masterpiece that draws most tourists to this church. This statue was suppose to be the central figure of an huge mausoleum which was to have included 40 statues.
Moses by Michelangelo shows the superb design of the artist and proving why he is considered as the best sculptor of all times. This sculpture of Moses is among the most moving images of western art.
The two statues of Rachael and Leah, which symbolize the active and contemplative life, were also designed by Michelangelo.
What to see?
- St Peter’s Basilica
- St Paul’s Basilica Outside the Walls (San Paolo Fuori le Mura)
- Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica
- San Giovanni Basilica
- San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura
- Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
- Sanctuary of Divino Amore
- San Sebastiano Fuori le Mura
- San Clemente
- San Stefano Rotondo
- San Pietro in Vincoli
- Santa Maria in Aracoeli
- Chiesa il Gesu'
- Santa Minerva
- San Luigi dei Francesi
- Basilica of Santa Sabina
- Santa Maria in Cosmedin
- San Giovanni dei Fiorentini
Although the highlight of our visit to Vatican was the museum we spend some time at St Peter’s basilica too.
It is located at piazza San Pietro which was decorated with a big Christmas tree a huge manger. There were hundreds of people waiting in line to get into the cathedral (there’s a delay because of the security check in, hopefully we went in from the museum) but the square has a capacity of thousands of people.
The square is circled by 2 long row of colossal colonnades and if you go to a specific spot near the fountains the 2 rows of the columns will look like one!
At the center of the square you can see another Egyptian obelisk (41meters high).
St Peter’s basilica is impressive for one simple reason, it is huge(187meters long with 11 chapels, 50 altars and hundrerds of statues!). Although we knew about it we were surprised of the interior (pic 2), amazing place with a capacity of 60000 people! Believe or not you can spend hours there, I don’t want to offend anyone but I had a feeling that I was inside a huge museum and not a religious place, it’s hard to feel that anyway on a regular day when it’s full of happy, noisy tourists that take pictures but of course some other people go there to pray (pic 3).
The cathedral was built upon the relics of another (big) cathedral that was on the same spot until the 16th century. It’s better to have a guide book with you so to know what you are looking because there are many things that worth to be seen in the cathedral, especially some top class items made by people like Raphael, Bernini and Michelangelo. Hard to mention everything here but of course make sure you wont miss the Pieta (pic 4) the amazing renaissance sculpture (made by Michelangelo in 1499) which is behind a bullet proof glass!
You can also go up the Cuppola and have a nice view over the city. You can take the lift or climb the 500 steps!
The basilica opens daily at 7.00am and there’s no entrance fee (you have to pay only for the Cupolla).
Go early on Sunday morning for the mass. For Wednesday Papal audience you have to book your (free) ticket online.
The last thing we did at Vatican was a visit under the Basilica where the crypt is located to check St.Peter’s tomb but also numerous burial rooms including Popes (pic 5).
Ok, first thing is first....make a plan to see St. Peter's Basilica !!!!! We didn't and we had to rush thru it !!! and we spent 4 hrs in it, and felt rushed !!!! Another tip would be to buy a book specifically on the Vatican or St. Peter's !!!! The Basilica opens at 7:00 am every day. remeber you are in an active place of worship so dress accordingly. Admission is free but you must go thru secruity to enter the Basilica. Once inside you will be astound to see the size of it. If you get here early as we did make a right turn as soon as you get in to see one of the most beautiful masterpiece ever created by human hands, Michaelangelo's ..... Pieta.... After that start along and make your way all around and then to the crypt of the pope's, and as you'll see there are huge lines everywhere, but the one to go to the top of the dome was none existing when we first got there, but the time we were done with Basilica it was more than 5 blocks long to get to the top, that's why I say make a game plan..... One of the world's truely great sites !!!!
As for St. Peter's square it's a great place to sit and people see !!!!!
“The building of St. Peter’s surpasses all powers of description. It appears to me like some great work of nature, a forest, a mass of rocks, or something similar; for I never can realize the idea that it is the work of man. You strive to distinguish the ceiling as little as the canopy of heaven. You lose your way in St. Peter’s; you take a walk in it, and ramble till you are quite tired; when divine service is performed and chanted there, you are not aware of it till you come quite close. The angels in the Baptistery are enormous giants, the doves, colossal birds of prey; you lose all sense of measurement with the eye, or proportion; and yet who does not feel his heart expand when standing under the dome and gazing up at it?”
— Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Standing at the central entry door looking down the nave of Basilica di San Pietro the view does take on a force-of-nature quality. And gazing up into the underside of the dome makes one feel so small.
The Basilica has 450 statues, 500 columns and 50 altars; it has a capacity to hold 60,000 people. It is the second basilica to stand on the site. Emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity in AD 316, built the first St. Peter’s after making Christianity the state religion. It was almost as large as the present church. By the 16th century more than a thousand years of wear and tear had taken their toll; the old church was crumbling.
In 1506 the architect Donato Bramante, who was engaged by Pope Julius II to design a new basilica, unveiled his plan. Over the years the task of executing the plan passed to a number of artists/architects, including Raphael and Michelangelo, all of whom made changes along the way. The basilica was not finished until 1614.
Begin your tour of the Basilica with the Chapel of the Pietà (see photo #4), the first chapel on the right aisle. This is the finest sculpture the church has to offer. The Pietà by Michelangelo, which he carved when he was only 24 years of age, represents the Madonna’s sorrow, holding Her dead Son, and Her acceptance of the will of God. It is the masterpiece of Michelangelo’s youth. Because rumors had reached Michelangelo that some admirers were attributing his work to another artist, this is his only signed work. Michelangelo chiseled his name on the sash across the Madonna’s chest.
As you face the High Altar, on the right and against one of the four immense piers supporting the dome, is the noble sculpture in bronze of St. Peter Enthroned (see photo #5). This is the work of the 13th century Florentine sculptor, Arnolfo di Cambio. Our Saint’s feet have been worn smooth by the faithful kissing or touching the bronze to bring them buona fortuna.
St. Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It is the symbolic "Mother church" of the Catholic Church and is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom" In Catholic tradition, it is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession.You can see a lot of nuns and monks who came to pray there and there are a lot of people who prays in a quiet grotto that contains more than 100 tombs, including St. Peter’s. There is special praying area in a church if you need to focus on a prayer in a quiet atmosphere. I am Orthodox, not Catholic, but this place was important for me, since Apostle Peter is respected by all Christians and we honor him the same way Catholic Church does, because at the Peter’s time there was no division between Eastern and Western Churches, they were one whole thing, I think that’s the reason our services are alike in a certain way. I’m not a big fan of Michelangelo and any sculptures and statues, but the church keeps one of this famous works.
La Pietà (1499) is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. It is the first of a number of works of the same theme by the artist. The statue was commissioned for the French cardinal Jean de Billheres, who was a representative in Rome. The statue was made for the cardinal's funeral monument, but was moved to its current location, the first chapel on the right as one enters the basilica, in the 18th century.
This famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. The theme is of Northern origin, popular by that time in France but not yet in Italy. Michelangelo's interpretation of the Pietà is unique to the precedents. It is an important work as it balances the Renaissance ideals of classical beauty with naturalism. The statue is one of the most highly finished works by Michelangelo
A state within a state, the Vatican is centre of the Catholic world. It inherited this importance from the Roman Empire, which had made Rome, its capital, as the seat of the Empire's new religion. For visitors, the Vatican contains numerous sites of interest, including the Basilica of St Peter's, built in the 16th century on the shrine of St Peter's, as well as the Vatican Museum and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Also, Castel Sant'Angelo is within the Vatican's borders. The attached photos are from November 1999, my first visit to the Vatican.
This is the center of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the largest church in the corld and the home of the Pope. It gets its name for the alleged burial site of the Apostle Simon, called Peter, after he was martyred by the Romans. A basillica was built on the spot in the 4th Century by Constantine the Great. But after many centuries, it fell into mis-repain and it wasn't until the 16th century (1500s) that the basillica was rebuilt. It took 120 years and numerous artisans left their mark, including Bramante and Michelangelo. The final part was of course the great dome. The interior was worked on by Bernini amongst others.
The Basillica can be see before St, Peters Square, also designed in part by Michelangelo. The vatican is actually a seperate state. This was put in writing during the rule of Benito Mussolini in the 1920s.
Today, millions come from around the world to see the great basillica and its art treasures, and of course to seek audience with the pontiff.