Patriarcal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican

"Patriarcal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011

Patriarcal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican, Italy

Round 320 Costantino commissioned the Basilica of St. Peter, a huge building made of aisles and naves, preceded by a big atrium, in the place where, according to the tradition, St. Peter Apostle was found. Only during 15th century a long planning leading to the complete restoration of Costantino's basilica, started with the help of several artists and ended about 200 hundred years later. In 1505 Donato Bramante undertook the works. He designed a marvellous building with a Greek Cross but since his disappearance it was left unfinished. In 1547 Michelangelo undertook the works. The old master, he was over 70, took up again Bramante's design and projected it upwards with the slander and the magnificent Dome. This Dome, Michelangelo had started working on but then Giacomo Dalla Porta completed it at the end of 15th century. At the beginning of 17th century Carlo Maderno was undertaken to finish the works, he added three chapels at the sides and the façade that was finished in 1614. Starting from 1629 the director of the site was Gian Lorenzo Bernini. He carried out most of the decorations and laid out the square raising the famous colonnade.

At the centre of the magnificent façade preceded by the stairs, designed by Bernini, there is the Blessing Loggia, the place where the Pope blesses his faithful from, during the most solemn occasions, and where the election of a new Pope is announced from. Entering the big Atrium on the right it is possible to admire the Statue of Costantino on a horse back, which is a Bernini's masterpiece. The Holy Door, the opening of which officially gives the start to the Holy Year, is on the right. Inside, where dimensions are huge, there is a nave and two minor aisles. On the floor of the nave, just a few metres from the entrance, there is the Rota Porphyretica , a porphyry disc where Carl Magnum kneed on to receive the imperial crown from Leo III on Christmas night of 1800.

Going towards the altar it is still possible see the bronze letters on the floor signing the heights of the biggest churches in the world. On the last pillar on the right there is the famous bronze statue representing St. Peter sitting and blessing. Under the Dome the 4 spiral-shaped columns of the Bronze canopy by Lorenzo Bernini (1624-1633), stand out, held up by four colossal pillars decorated with statues of Saints. Under the canopy there is the Pope Altar facing the confession, built by Maderno, on the axis of the underlying grave of St. Peter. On the first chapel of the right aisle, behind the protective crystal, it is possible to admire the very famous Pity by Michelangelo, a marble statue he made when he was just 23 (1498-99). On the right transept there is the monument of Clemente XIII, one of the most famous masterpieces by Antonio Canova (1784-92). On the left aisle it is possible to notice the grave of Innocent VIII by Pollaiolo (1498), the most ancient of the funeral monuments in the basilica, and the stele known as Stuart monument by Antonio Canova.

More Details:

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)
Piazza San Pietro, Saint Peter's Square, Rome, Italy 00193
Piazza San Pietro, Saint Peter's Square is Shown By "Map D Zone" As "2"
Neighborhood: Vaticano - Borgo
Transit: Ottaviano (711 m NW), Metro A Ottaviano.
Nearest Train: Ottaviano-San Pietro
Bus 31 - 62 - 64 - 982 - 40
St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) is Shown By "Map D Zone" As "1"
+39 06 6988 1662
Open Hours: Monday to Sunday from 09:00 AM to 06:15 PM
Official Website:

Hours: 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)
Scavi Office: weekdays 9:00 - 17:00

Sacristy (011) 39 06 6988 3712
Parish Office (011) 39 06 6988 5435
Vatican Switchboard (011) 39 06 6982

For Visitor Services
Monsignor Roger C. Roensch - Director
US Visitors Office to the Vatican,
Via dell' Umiltá 30,
00187 Rome, Italy
Phone: + 39 06 690 011
Fax: + 39 06 679 1448

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