"Church of St. Peter in Chains" Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli Tip by goodfish

Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome: 39 reviews and 76 photos

This church was commissioned by Pope Leo I to house the chains which supposedly shackled St. Peter when he was imprisoned firstly in Jerusalem and then in Rome. Built in the 5th century over the remains of an imperial villa, it has been restored and rebuilt several times since.

Besides the chains - which can be seen in a glass case near the high altar- the biggest reason to make a stop is to see Michelangelo's Moses. Commissioned for the lavish tomb of Pope Julius II, it was one of only two pieces completed after Julius' death before the the next Pope set the poor sculptor, who much preferred hacking away at marble to dabbling at ceilings, to work on the Sistine Chapel. The two knobs on Moses' head was a misinterpretation of the Hebrew description for the rays of light that shone from his face when he came down from the Mount. Translated to Latin, it came out as 'horns'. He looks cranky 'cause, well, there was this unfortunate incident involving a golden calf...

The church is in the same general vicinity (Esquiline) as the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which makes it convenient to give both a look-see while in the area. See this site for hours and other info:


Address: Piazza S. Pietro in Vincoli
Directions: ESQUILINE AREA. Several blocks almost due north of the Colosseum, and southwest of Santa Maria Maggiore.
Phone: +39 6 488 2865
Website: http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/luoghi-di-culto-di-interesse-storico-artistico/chiese-cattoliche/san-pietro-in-vincoli.html

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 6, 2014
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Comments (1)

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Feb 6, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    Of course David has to be my favorite by Michelangelo but Moses is a close second :-)


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