"St. Peter?s Basilica: Interior Highlights" Top 5 Page for this destination St. Peter's Basilica - Basilica San Pietro Tip by von.otter
St. Peter's Basilica - Basilica San Pietro, Rome: 136 reviews and 282 photos
?The building of St. Peter?s surpasses all powers of description. It appears to me like some great work of nature, a forest, a mass of rocks, or something similar; for I never can realize the idea that it is the work of man. You strive to distinguish the ceiling as little as the canopy of heaven. You lose your way in St. Peter?s; you take a walk in it, and ramble till you are quite tired; when divine service is performed and chanted there, you are not aware of it till you come quite close. The angels in the Baptistery are enormous giants, the doves, colossal birds of prey; you lose all sense of measurement with the eye, or proportion; and yet who does not feel his heart expand when standing under the dome and gazing up at it??
? Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Standing at the central entry door looking down the nave of Basilica di San Pietro the view does take on a force-of-nature quality. And gazing up into the underside of the dome makes one feel so small.
The Basilica has 450 statues, 500 columns and 50 altars; it has a capacity to hold 60,000 people. It is the second basilica to stand on the site. Emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity in AD 316, built the first St. Peter?s after making Christianity the state religion. It was almost as large as the present church. By the 16th century more than a thousand years of wear and tear had taken their toll; the old church was crumbling.
In 1506 the architect Donato Bramante, who was engaged by Pope Julius II to design a new basilica, unveiled his plan. Over the years the task of executing the plan passed to a number of artists/architects, including Raphael and Michelangelo, all of whom made changes along the way. The basilica was not finished until 1614.
Begin your tour of the Basilica with the Chapel of the PietÓ (see photo #4), the first chapel on the right aisle. This is the finest sculpture the church has to offer. The PietÓ by Michelangelo, which he carved when he was only 24 years of age, represents the Madonna?s sorrow, holding Her dead Son, and Her acceptance of the will of God. It is the masterpiece of Michelangelo?s youth. Because rumors had reached Michelangelo that some admirers were attributing his work to another artist, this is his only signed work. Michelangelo chiseled his name on the sash across the Madonna?s chest.
As you face the High Altar, on the right and against one of the four immense piers supporting the dome, is the noble sculpture in bronze of St. Peter Enthroned (see photo #5). This is the work of the 13th century Florentine sculptor, Arnolfo di Cambio. Our Saint?s feet have been worn smooth by the faithful kissing or touching the bronze to bring them buona fortuna.
Phone: +39 06 6988 3731
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