St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

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  • St. Peter's Basilica
    by aukahkay
  • Funky pic taken at the entrance of the basilica
    Funky pic taken at the entrance of the...
    by Jefie
  • Bernini's monumental baldacchino
    Bernini's monumental baldacchino
    by Jefie
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    The mother of all churches

    by Jefie Updated Dec 9, 2014

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    St. Peter's basilica is the most important church in the Catholic world. It is supposed to be located on the site where St. Peter, one of Jesus's 12 apostles, was buried. Traditionally, he is also considered as the first pope, ordained by the Christ himself. A shrine was erected over his grave in the 2nd century, and a first basilica was built in AD 349 under emperor Constantine, the first Christian emperor. It remained in use until the 15th century, at which point Pope Julius II ordered that a new basilica should be built to replace the old decrepit one. Italy's most influential architects and artists were hired, and the corner stone was laid in 1506. St. Peter's basilica was completed in 1626.

    Because we had booked a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, we were ushered straight through to the basilica (to do so, make sure you select the Museums & Basilica guided tour) so we didn't have to stand in the loooong waiting line. Our guide met up with us after our visit to the Sistine Chapel and once again did a remarkable job of pointing out all the interesting facts and works of art in the basilica. Michaelangelo's Pieta can be seen just as you enter the basilica. The tomb of Pope John Paul II, the second longest serving pope in modern Catholic history, was placed in the chapel of St. Sebastian and still attracts a huge number of pilgrims. Also popular is the bronze statue of St. Peter holding the keys to heaven; visitors wait in line to touch and kiss its right foot (which seems highly unsanitary to me, but oh well!).

    Directly under the basilica's cupola (which was designed by Michaelangelo) stands Bernini's bronze baldacchino, a massive structure consisting of four twisted columns supporting a canopy. It is believed that much of the bronze used to build the basilica's High Altar came from the roof and ceiling of the Pantheon, giving rise to the popular saying "Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini (What the barbarians did not do, the Barberini did) since Pope Urban VIII of the Barberini family is believed to have ordered the controversial deed. The baldachinno is surrounded by four equally massive piers designed to hold the basilica's holy relics. Each pier holds a statue of the saint associated with the relic: St. Helena is portrayed with the cross and holy nails that were used for the Christ's crucifixion, St. Longinus holds the spear that pierced his side of Jesus, St. Andrew is portrayed with his cross, and Saint Veronica holds the veil on which appears Jesus' face.

    Admission to the basilica is free. Although it is possible to climb up the dome (5 Euros to climb all 551 steps, 7 Euros to use the elevator and then climb 320 steps) and enjoy the view, we decided to skip it because the waiting line was way too long!

    Michaelangelo's Pieta Bernini's monumental baldacchino Statue of St. Veronica holding her veil Funky pic taken at the entrance of the basilica
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    The Inside Art of Saint Peter's Basilica

    by Sienlu Written Nov 6, 2014

    The interior of the Basilica is absolutely splendid. It's filled with sculptures and paintings and 10,000 square meters of mosaics. Some of the most famous artists are represented and their works of art which includes : Michelangelo's Pieta, Bernini's Baldachino and Cathedra, Arnoldo di Cambio's ancient statue of St. Peter and the atrium which is one of the most remarkable works of Carlo Maderno.

    St Peter's Basilica is the largest church in the world with Basilica of the National Shrine of Our lady of Aparecida.

    Open 7am to 6.30pm

    Baldachin bronze sculpture by Bernini Pope John Paul II Tomb
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    The big cathedral

    by solopes Updated Sep 30, 2014

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    Will it be possible to conciliate religiosity with the crowds that invade the space, thousands by day, each day?

    Will it be possible to describe the place in less than a large book?

    I won't try. If you may, just go. If you don’t, it would be cruelty, describing what you have to miss. Not me.

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    Pieta by Michelangelo

    by egonwegh Updated May 23, 2014

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    Close to the entrance of St. Peter's Basilica, almost immediately on your right, you'll see the statue of the Pietà by Michelangelo. Unfortunately, it stands behind an immense glass screen, so you will not be able to get within close distance.

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    Monument to Pope Alexander VII

    by egonwegh Updated May 23, 2014

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    Monument to Pope Alexander VII (13 February 1599 – 22 May 1667), born Fabio Chigi, by the famous Bernini. Some VT members have complained that it is hard to photograph (no flash allowed &c), but I think I did reasonably well...

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    Bronze door

    by egonwegh Updated May 22, 2014

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    Bronze door in the so-called narthex of the Basilica, I think these are the doors designed by Antonio Averulino (also known as 'Filarete') in 1455. They came from the old basilica that stood in this place and when that was demolished the doors were re-installed in the new St. Peter's Basilica.

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    Benedict XV

    by solopes Updated Feb 20, 2014

    Dead in 1922, this pope has a special veneration in this cathedral, due to his hard efforts to peace during WW1. Buried in the caves, he has a statue in the main floor, in a structure presented as his tomb, that... it is not.
    The monument is very strong, but didn't convince the experts, finding incoherence between some of the decorative elements.

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    Pope's baldacchino

    by solopes Written Dec 26, 2013

    All the catedral is an ashtonishing collection of precious master pieces from dozens of the biggest names in architetcture, sculpture and painting. It will take an eternity to browse and identify each piece, under the dimmed interior light, but a large one is in evidence in the centre of the building, with st Peter's chair as background. It's the "baldacchino" conceived by Bernini and used by the popes in their eucharistic celebrations.

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    Pietà

    by solopes Updated Dec 26, 2013

    After having seen a few wonderful Pietàs, it's a very emotive moment the meeting with THE Pietà. And then, looking at the glass between me and the statue comes the question: How could someone decide to damage it?

    What confusions are there in a mind ceding to a such a barbarian impulse?

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    Alexander VII

    by solopes Updated Dec 13, 2013

    Bernini's monument to Alexander VII, is one of the most impressive in St Peter church.

    Unfortunately, the common "no flash" instruction and the crowds always passing by make almost impossible to get its picture.

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    Impressive !!!

    by muratkorman Updated Apr 30, 2013

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    Inside St Peter's Basilica you can spend hours to check the details of the chapels and the altar as well as the high ceiling. The capacity is 60000 people which you can compare with a large football stadium. It is all about timing and being selective in Vatican city since you might get caught with a particular section and you don't realize how time flies away. I suggest you go up to the Cuppola first before entering the cathedral. The exit from the Cuppola will bring you inside. I also add some videos taken inside St Peter's to help you visualize more.

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    The Throne of St Peter

    by GentleSpirit Written Feb 13, 2013

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    the main apse holds the throne of St Peter. It's actually really hard to see because of the elaborate sculpture surrounding it. Predictably, the sculpture is the work of the great Gianlorenzo Bernini. The throne itself is made of wood and is supposedly original, though it has been inlaid and strengthened over the years.

    Interestingly, here there is a unity of Latin and Greek, one each side of the monument there are statues two are greek, two are latin. Same with the inscriptions above, one side is in Latin the other in Greek.

    I was particularly taken by the stained glass.

    Throne of St PEter
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    Bernini's Baldacchino

    by GentleSpirit Written Feb 1, 2013

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    The beautiful bronze canopy over the high altar is called a baldacchino. It is the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini the great sculptor and architect. It was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini) and was completed in 1634. The four marble columns are 20 meters (66 feet) high.

    Bernini's baldacchino beneath the canopy
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    Michelangelo's Pieta

    by GentleSpirit Updated Jan 30, 2013

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    Easily one of the most famous masterpieces of sculpture, Michelangelo's Pieta was one of his first commissioned works when he came to Rome at the age of 24. Done in 1498-99, it is also the only sculpture he ever signed. This was also one of his most finished works (you see a lot of unfinished Michelangelo sculptures.)

    This sculpture is striking more than anything else because of the tenderness of it. Like Michelangelo's other famous sculptures, the detail is just breathtaking. Really, he was able to make his subject come to life.

    Michelangelo's Pieta
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    dome of St Peter's Basilica

    by GentleSpirit Updated Jan 30, 2013

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    St Peter's Basilica is easily one of the most famous places of worship in the world. When you see it on TV you normally will see the piazza in front of it packed with people. I got there very early in the morning and since i was with a tour group we didn't have to stand in the lines, which seemed to move pretty quickly anyway.

    The Dome of St Peter's was designed of Antonio Bramante and the great Michelangelo Buonarotti later adapted the original design. The idea was to bring the Renaissance grandeur of Florence to Rome. It would be a cross between the Pantheon in Rome and the Duomo of Florence.

    The Dome of St Peter's is the tallest dome in the world, it rises 136.57 meters (448 feet) from floor to the external cross. The tour I was on didn't go up the Dome. If you wish to go up to the top it costs 7 euro to ride the elevator or 5 euro if you want to climb the 323 stairs (all marble, bring good shoes!)

    the Dome of St Peter's Basilica
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