Saint Peter’s Cathedral
The largest of its kind in the world, Saint Peter’s Cathedral is the cynosure of all eyes in the Vatican City and the high point of your Rome holiday. Traditionally this is the site where Peter, first of the 12 Apostles mentioned in canonical gospels was crucified and remains buried. Besides his tomb under the main altar, this basilica is also the burial place of other Popes in Christendom. Constantine founded the structure originally in 324 A.D., but much of what we see today is a result of rebuilding in the 16th century. Great Renaissance masters including Bernini, Michelangelo, and Bramante have a role in this magnificent revival.
During the first century, the site where St. Peters Basilica stands today was a cemetery and the location of Nero Circus. This is where St. Peter was martyred and buried. Emperor Constantine visited the place in 324 B.C., and ordered the construction of basilica over the site of the tomb. The St. Peter Shrine is still the focal point of this church.
During the middle of the 15th century, decision regarding the rebuilding of the basilica was considered. Bernardo Rossellino a famous architect of that period was commissioned for the job under the papal orders of Nicholas V. He started building additions to the old church, but this project remained incomplete. Later on Sixtus IV ordered the building of the Sistine Chapel in the nearby area.
The current building as it stands today started under Julius II during 1506 and was finished in 1615 when Paul V was the Pope. First of the chief architects for St. Peter’s basilica was Donato Bramante, Michelangelo was also the chief architect for some time later on. The design of the dome is his. Bernini, on the other hand, designed, Saint Peter Squire.
Grand facade and the magnificent interiors ensure a memorable sightseeing experience
There is no doubt that St. Peter’s Cathedral is a spectacular structure, both inside and outside. You can start your sightseeing tour from St. Peter Square, which is the fitting entrance to this magnificent structure. It contains two lovely fountains and a 25 m tall Egyptian obelisk located in the central point of the Square. The presence of a monumental colonnade containing 140 different statues that depict various saints, along with colossal St. Peter and St. Paul statues, adds to the beauty and magnificence.
The parabolic dome of the Cathedral, built by Michelangelo has a 42 m interior diameter, and is 120 m tall. The interior of the church is truly monumental that leaves an indelible impression on the visitors’. The total area covered is over 5.7 acres, massive by any means. It contains best of Renaissance decorations and monuments that you can come across anywhere in the world.
Visiting Saint Peters Cathedral
You can ask information regarding free tours at the information office located at the South Wing.
How to Reach Saint Peters Cathedral
You can reach St Peter’s Basilica either via the subway or simply by feet. You can take Linea A metro to Battistini and exit through St.Pietro, Ottaviano. You can then walk towards St. Peter’s Square. Alternatively, start walking from the city centre towards Via Conciliazione.
The cathedral is open daily. During the months of April through September, it is open from 7.00 A.M. to 7.00 P.M. Similarly, from October to March it opens at 6.00 AM in the morning and remains so until 6.00 in the evening.