St. Peter's Basilica - Basilica San Pietro, Rome

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  • St. Peter's Basilica - Basilica San Pietro
    by brendareed
  • St. Peter's Basilica - Basilica San Pietro
    by brendareed
  • St. Peter's Basilica - Basilica San Pietro
    by brendareed
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    Bernini's baldacchino & the high altar

    by brendareed Written Jun 2, 2014

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    The high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica rests over the tomb of St. Peter and under the ornate canopy commissioned by Pope Urban VIII in 1624; designed by Bernini, this canopy, or baldacchino, creates a focal point in the massive building towards the altar.

    Because of the size of the building, without the baldacchino, the altar would disappear, seemingly swallowed up under the church’s dome – it is out of proportion to the sheer scale of the building. By adding the canopied baldacchino, the emphasis is again on the altar since you can see the canopy from the back of the nave.

    The baldacchino was created from bronze taken from the Pantheon. It has four gilded columns whose bases are decorated with the coat of arms of the Barberini family (Pope Urban’s family) – recognizable by the three bees in the central part of the shield. You can find these bees on the festoons and tassels at the top of the canopy. The columns demonstrate amazing workmanship with the upward spirals.

    Only the pope can celebrate mass at this high altar and it rests over top the niche where St. Peter’s tomb resides. The altar itself was created from a block of Greek marble that was found in the Forum of Nerva.

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    the feet of St. Peter

    by brendareed Written Jun 2, 2014

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    As you make your way up the nave of St. Peter’s Basilica towards the altar, there is a seated bronze statue of St. Peter under a canopy on the last column on the right hand side. You will probably notice the crowd lined up in front of it before you actually see the sculpture.

    This statue of St. Peter was created by Arnolfo di Cambrio in the late 1200s, although it was previously thought to have existed since the 5th century. It is a bronze figure of Peter seated on a marble throne. On festivals days, the statue wears a robe.

    Many people have rubbed and/or kissed the feet of this statue, with Peter’s right extended foot getting the most attention (thus the line of people and the guard keeping the crowd orderly and the line moving quickly). Because of all this touching over the centuries, the bronze foot has actually worn down to where his toes have lost their shape.

    I didn’t stand in line to see it, but was able to get a good view of the statue from behind the guard (most people were lined up on the other side). To get a photo, I just had to be quick since there are only a few seconds between people posing in front of the foot to touch it, kiss it, or have their photo taken.

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    St. Peter's Basilica

    by brendareed Written Jun 2, 2014

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    St. Peter’s Basilica is an impressive building. Surprisingly though, it is neither a cathedral nor the “mother church” of the Catholic religion (that distinction is held by Rome’s St. John Lateran). St. Peter’s was built overtop the site of Peter’s tomb and the site of a church built by the first Christian Roman emperor Constantine. In the mid-1500s, the church was expanded and built to an even grander and more elaborate building closer to what we see today (this was during the time of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling and Raphael painting Pious II’s rooms in the Vatican).

    There is so much to see in St. Peter’s – plan on a minimum of an hour (not including waiting in security). If you plan to climb the dome, that would be additional time. We spent about half a day in the complex and still didn’t see everything.

    First things first – dress appropriately! Not so much a problem in the winter, but in the hot summer, you will not be allowed inside without your legs and shoulders covered. This means no shorts and no tank tops. You don’t want to wait in long security lines only to find you are not allowed inside.

    Security – everyone goes through this – bags are run through scanners and you walk through the screening arch. Not a problem but the lines can get long in the summer – although we were there at the end of February and were only in line for about 10 minutes. As you approach the security point, have your metal items out of your pockets and everything ready to be screened (don’t be one of those people that wait until you are at the screening area and then be surprised that you have to be screened - be prepared and it speeds things up for everyone).

    Once you are through security, it is decision time: to enter the church or climb the dome?? If you plan to climb the dome – do it first! If you exit the church and decide to climb the dome, you may have to go through security again. So as you approach the church, and before the stairs, you will see signs directing you towards the dome climb – turn there for the climb or continue up the stairs for the church.

    As you enter the church, take some time to simply take in the sight – it is massive! Stand at the back and look down the nave towards the altar – it seems so far away (because it is far away). Then turn to your right and look at what many people come to the church to see – Michelangelo’s Pieta. It is behind glass due to an attack on the statue in the 1970s (why would anyone want to ruin this great piece of art?!).

    Head up the nave. In the center marked by a barrier, are the names of churches around the world. These markers indicate where the other churches would fit inside St. Peter’s. Look at the massive columns on either side of the nave – don’t you feel tiny?!? The statues that decorate these columns are very large (even the cherubs are adult human size) to be in proportion to the size of the building.

    There is so much to see from the high altar and St. Peter’s statue, to the dome and the baldachino. I highly recommend you get an audio tour or use a book, such as The Blue Guide – Rome to help you understand everything you are seeing. A free audio tour that is pretty good historically and points out the highlights is the Rick Steves’ audio tour that you can download free from iTunes. There are several for sights around Rome – we used these on our trip and found them to be just right for most people with just enough history for most people without overwhelming you. For those who are looking for more details – get a book and read up before or after your visit.

    The church is open from 7:00 am – 6:30 pm. It is free unless you do the extras (such as the dome climb). Tours of the necropolis are only done for groups.

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    Basilica di San Pietro - Cleaning.

    by breughel Updated May 17, 2013

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    A visit to San Pietro is always a great moment of cultural, spiritual and artistical life (you may line up my words in a different way depending on what comes first to your mind).

    So much has been written about the head basilica of Christianity that I don't see what to add to the many comments. Therefore I just made a travelogue with some photos from before the scaffolds.

    Oh yes, I liked the modern floor cleaning machine.

    San Pietro - Cleaning. San Pietro - Cleaning. San Pietro before the scaffolds. San Pietro in winter.
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    On This Rock, I Will Build My Church...

    by goodfish Updated May 15, 2013

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    The crown jewel of the Roman Catholic faith, the Basilica of St. Peter is the second-largest church in the world and certainly among the most beautiful. The interior is positively vast - so big that the monuments, statuary and other embellishments that grace the aisles and chapels don't appear to be as enormous as they are until you stand next to them.

    This is another of Rome's treasures much too important to cover in a paragraph or two. The shrine of the martyred St. Peter and his tomb in the necropolis, as well as tombs of many of the popes, draw Catholic pilgrims from around the world. For the rest of us, San Pietro's collection of art and architecture captivate and move you with their powerful, elaborate or deeply emotional beauty: Bernini's glorious baldacchino and Throne of St. Peter, Michelangelo's Pieta and dome, and many other priceless mosaics, marbles and bronzes.

    The basilica is also one of Rome's best bargains as it's free except for limited, pre-booked tours to the necropolis, elevator service partway to the dome, and entrance to the treasury. Here are a few good tidbits to know before you go:

    • You will need to pass through an airport-like security check with the same restrictions on knives, scissors, etc. The line starts to the right side of the basilica as you are facing it. The line can be VERY long but it moves fairly quickly. I recommend getting here just before the opening hour or late in the day for shortest waits.

    • No shorts, miniskirts or bare shoulders allowed, women OR men. Although some tourists claim to have gotten in with uncovered knees, most others have not so don't risk it. Also avoid wearing t-shirts with verbiage or images that might be considered risque or offensive.

    • Baby strollers are not allowed

    • There's no entrance to the Vatican Museums from here - although many tours of the museums end up in the basilica

    • Photography is allowed but no flash or tripods

    • Although it's a major tourist destination, San Pietro is, first, a church. Enough said. You will probably experience a few annoying visitors abusing the no-flash rules, talking loudly, leaning on stuff they shouldn't and generally being disrespectful. Sad.

    • Make a potty stop before you go. There are some restrooms about - mostly outside the church - but they're generally pretty hard to find. There are some available on the dome level if you make the climb up.

    You may hire a guide but you don't really need one; this website has very good, very complete information which may be downloaded before you go (we did):

    http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/index.htm

    Audioguides are also available. The Vatican has a website in 6 languages but I can never get the English tab to work so the second one here is a better resource for current, basic visiting info:

    http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_pietro/index_it.htm

    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/luoghi-di-culto-di-interesse-storico-artistico/chiese-cattoliche/basilica-di-san-pietro-in-vaticano.html

    Rick Steves also offers a downloadable tour for MP3 players:

    http://www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/0602/rome_downloads.htm

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    St Peter's Basilica.

    by IreneMcKay Written Jan 5, 2013

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    Fortunately for me at least I had been to St Peter's Basilica and up its dome and to the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel on my first trip to Rome as a child. I say fortunately because we arrived at St Peter's to find a huge queue snaking and spiraling all the way across the square. It looked as if you may have had to camp out for days to get in. Needless to say we did not.

    My husband outside St Peter's. part of St Peter's Square.
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    09-St. Peter's Basilica-05-Inside

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Oct 2, 2012

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    The Basilica is really huge. Its length is roughly 624 ft (190 m) long, the height is 150 ft (45.50 m) and it is 190 ft (58 m) wide. The dome is almost 450 ft (136 m) high. The moment you enter, you are struck by the sheer vastness of the space; it's like entering a mammoth stadium. You will immediately notice a roped off middle portion which, on closer inspection, will reveal markings of the lengths of the other Churches in the world.

    If you look to your right, you will see Michelangelo’s Pieta, shielded by thick bullet-proof glass. This was crafted when he was barely 24 years old, in 1499. Take your time over it. I had read in the novel by Irving Stone (‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’) that Michelangelo risked his life to visit various morgues in the city to dissect unclaimed corpses so as to properly understand and represent the human body. If you look intently at the lifeless form of Jesus, you will notice the striking resemblance to the human form. And this was when the dissection of human bodies was considered a crime and a persuasion by the devil. The complete limpness of the body of Jesus and the helplessness of His Mother, The Virgin Mary, as she looks at her dead son, is so real that many worshippers are overcome with emotion. And imagine, one lunatic went into the Basilica with a hammer and broke the left arm of The Virgin's statue. After that dastardly attack, the statue is behind a bulletproof glass.

    As you walk along towards the altar, innumerable great works of art are there for you to behold and to marvel at. Of particular interest are the statue of Saint Peter Enthroned by Arnolfo di Cambio, one foot of which is almost worn away by the kisses of the faithful and the monument to Gregory XIII by Camillo Rusconi.

    Near about the altar are four huge statues representing the passion of Christ. In order of sequence, they are of St Longinus, the soldier who struck the right rib cage of Christ; St Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine who brought the cross and nails used in the crucifixion to Rome; St Veronica, who used a piece of cloth to wipe the face of Christ on the road to Calvary; St Andrew, who was crucified in Greece. In the middle stands Bernini’s baldachin, a ceremonial canopy of bronze over the Papal altar, commissioned by Pope Urban VIII Barberini.

    It has four huge twisted columns spiralling upwards, crowned by an equally ornate canopy. The gold dove inside the canopy represents the Holy Spirit. Beneath this is the tomb of Saint Peter, the holiest of the holy place and the site to which millions of devotees throng.

    To your left, facing the altar is a small door leading to the basement. Next to it is a lift which brings you from the Sistine Chapel directly to this Basilica. You may also like to explore St. Peter's Treasury which is beyond the sacristy.

    First Written: Oct. 02, 2012

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    09-St. Peter's Basilica-04-Facade

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Oct 2, 2012

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    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

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    09-St. Peter's Basilica-03-The Cupola

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Oct 2, 2012

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    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

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    09-St. Peter's Basilica-01-Intro

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Oct 2, 2012

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    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

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    St. Peter's Basilica

    by Ines_ Written Mar 18, 2012

    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.”

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    San Pietro

    by adema29 Updated Dec 8, 2011

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    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

    San Pietro-Rome San Pietro-inside view San Pietro-Detail San Pietro Piazza San Pietro before Christmas

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    Catholic 'Bling'

    by zadunajska8 Written Nov 6, 2011

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    The most striking thing I found about St Peters basilica was just how holy it did NOT feel!

    This is probably due to the huge numbers marching through the place and the need for the church authorities to try to control the passage of the crowds as well as the security measures they have obviously felt are necessary. The biggest irritations to me were the large tour groups who attempt to push other visitors out of the way and the shameless touts who are trying to recruit you into these tour groups.

    The queue to get in to St Peters looked horrific when we arrived and the touts offering tours which will jump the queue can seem very tempting to many I imagine, but the queue actually moves really quickly and so it's not such a big issue. We also got talking to people from China and Brazil whilst in the queue and actually enjoyed meeting these people we would otherwise never have crossed paths with.

    Before you go in you must observe the dress code. No bare shoulders or knees. Apparently this is enforced with varying degrees of strictness on different days but go prepared that this is supposed to be a holy place. I do find it odd however that the church asks visitors to cover up when they are going to be shown a building full of nude images!

    The interior of the basilica is big and extremely ornate. The size probably feels greatly diminished because it is so packed inside but it is still huge. The level of decor with so much gold, marble and precious stones just looked completely over the top to me (but I am an atheist from an extremely protestant background!) and it was almost as though the church was saying "look at how rich we are". Others will clearly disagree wholeheartedly, but I couldn't help but think of it as "Benedict's Bling". On the whole I think I much preferred the Basilica of San Giovanni in Lateran.

    St Peters square outside I found was much more elegant. Again, it's been built with the intention of impressing the power of the church on you.

    St Peters Basilica St Peters Basilica St Peters Basilica Swiss Guards outside St Peters Basilica St Peters Basilica
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    St Peter's

    by mindcrime Written Mar 20, 2011

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    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).

    St Peter���s basilica inside St Peter���s basilica Sacrament of Penance Pieta at St Peter���s basilica Popes' tombs
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    Going to St. Peters

    by joiwatani Written Jul 25, 2010

    You have to join the line going to St. Peter's Cathedral each time...You have to plan your trip accordingly so you won't be wasting your time in a line! Consider which one is more important to you. There are securities that you have to go through entering the church...And, believe me, depending on what time of the day you are going the line is extremely long!

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