St. Peter's Square - Vasi
The Basilica of St. Peter
Baldacchino del Bernini
Basilica of St. Peter is in the heart of the Vatican
City, an independent sovereign state on the right bank
of the Tiber river, in the centre of Rome.
The Vatican State is
the smallest State in the world, and what remains of temporal dominions
of the Church, which were annexed to Italy at the end of 1800's
with the unification of the country.
The Basilica as we see it today,
with its ribbed dome stands impressively in its square which seems
to welcome all the pilgrims of the world in the embrace of the
Mother Church. It was designed by the most famous architects and geniuses
of the Renaissance and Baroque time.
The Basilica stands on the
foundations of the Constantinian basilica, that
stood for over a thousand years on a sacred area of Pagan-Christians
mausoleums. St. Peter's Square with its famous
colonnade which represents one of the most brilliant ideas of Gian
Lorenzo Bernini, is 320
meters wide with a central ellipsis of 240 meters and is surrounded
by 4 rows of 284 columns and 88 pilasters. The balustrade above
the columns is decorated with 140 statues of Saints. Below, a huge
stairway of three flights flanked by the statues of Saint Peter
and Saint Paul. In the center of the square there are two great
fountains and an obelisk.
The façade of the Basilica -14.69 mt. wide and 47.3
mt. high - is made of travertine of Tivoli. It features a unique structure
of Corinthian columns and frames a broad central portico with two
arcades on either side (the one on the left leads to the City of the
Vatican); above, nine balconies with windows (the central one is the
loggia of the blessings) and a canonical attic surmounted by the balustrade
that supports thirteen statues. Five bronze doors lead inside. In
the middle of the church dominate the magnificent "dome" by
Michelangelo and the smaller domes of the Gregorian and
Inside, the Basilica is 186 m long (218.7 with the
portico, or front hall), the main nave is 46 m in height and the height
of the dome is 119 m. Under the dome is the papal altar, with the
famous canopy by Bernini rising over it.
The sumptuousness of the interior is breathtaking:
45 altars, 11 chapels, around 10 thousand square metres of mosaics
and many other masterpieces, such as the “Pietà” by Michelangelo.
The tombs of several popes can befound under St.
Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, wanted
the building of the Basilica in 315 AD exactly on the site where the
tomb of Christ's first Apostle was worshipped.
> The Basilica of St. Peter - part II