In 1506, Bramante was commissioned by Pope Julius II to renovate St. Peter’s Basilica, originally built by Constantine from 324-329.
St. Peter was the first apostle and the first pope. He is always carrying his key.
Since Rome is a place of pilgrimage, a “Scave Tour” is available with advanced reservations and allows you to visit the tomb of St. Peter and the archeological excavations beneath the basilica. Travel from the Baroque church to the Romanesque sanctuary to the Roman cemetery and tomb of Peter the Apostle. The crypt is located under the Papal Altar. Pay hommage to St.Peter in the Basilica.
The Basilica contains the work of some of Italy’s finest sculptors. Bernini put the finishing touches on a building that many others worked on. Michelangelo’s cupola, and Raphael and Bramante worked on the architecture. This is the world’s largest church; lines on the floor mark and compare the size of mant other major churches.
St. Peter’s Square is equipped with large video screens. When pilgrims and tourists converge upon the area for festivities, spectators have a bird’s eye view of the main event.
The red granite obelisk was brought to Rome from Egypt by Emperor Caligula in 37 AD. It was moved to this square in 1587 by Domenico Fontana.
The statues surrounding the obelisk represent the zodiac. There are two 17th century fountains in the square. The fountain on the right (1613) is by Carlo Maderno who also designed the façade of the church. The fountain on the left was added by Bernini in 1675 by Carlo Fontana.
Columns and Corinthian pilasters decorate the façade. The central balcony above the main entrance is the “Loggia of Benedictions” where the pope delivers the benediction after his election and gives his weekly blessing. Below the cupola, Bernini’s workshop created 13 statues: Christ the Redeemer, John the Baptist and eleven apostles. St. Peter and St. Paul’s 19th century statues welcome visitors on the ground floor of the basilica.
St. Peter’s statue by Giuseppe de Fabris holds the golden key that he received from Christ.
St. Paul’s statue by Adamo Tadolini holds the sword that symbolizes his decapitation in Rome.
The building on the right is the Pope’s residence. The Pope appears every Sunday at noon to say the Angelus and give his apostolic blessing. The colonnade surrounding the square was designed by Bernini between the years 1656 and 1666. They represent two outstretched arms welcoming the faithful to the Basilica. There are 140 statues of saints watching over the Basilica above the colonnade.
There are five bronze entrance doors. These sacred doors are symbolic and functional. From left to right these doors represent: Death, Good and Evil, the original door from the old basilica, the Sacraments and the Porta Santa (Holy Door). The Holy Door is only opened during Jubilee years so that religious pilgrims can receive the Pope’s special blessing.
Michelangelo’s Pieta was completed when he was 24 years old.
He carved “Michaela[n]gelus Bonarotus Florentin[us] Facieba[t]” (“Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florence Made It”) onto the sash across Mary’s chest.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides to Italy and Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites.
To learn more about Rome visit www.vino-con-vista.com. Buon Viaggio–