Friday, July 13, 2012

Saint Peter's Basilica ~ Vatican City ~ Italy

We had spent a few hours wandering through the Vatican museums then it was time to see St. Peter’s Basilica, which is adjacent to the museums in Vatican City.  We’d seen the dome from afar on our walks around Rome but now we will see the inside of one of the most famous churches in the world.

We look down the Tiber River to see St. Peter's Basilica
Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy
The original basilica was built in 320 AD but due to decay had to be rebuilt by the end of the fifteenth century.  The architect Bramante tore most of it down and only had pillars built when he died so Raphael and Michelangelo then became the architects following him and made changes to the plans.  It was 120 years before it was completed. The first service held here in the new basilica was in November of 1626. 
Looking up into the dome to see some of the architecture
Interior of dome in St.Peter's Basilica in the Vatican
Michelangelo was the one who suggested the dome and that wasn’t built until many years after he died but was completed in 22 months by 800 men.  It is the largest brick dome ever built and stands 137 meters (450’) and remains the tallest point in Rome to this day. 
The size of the statues and height of the ceilings is very high compared to those standing nearby.
Statues inside St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
Saint Peter’s Basilica is a beautiful church, as one would imagine it to be.  There was a service during our visit but with the size of it being so large there was no disturbance.  The crowd is quiet and respectful, but it is hard not to be ‘ooohing’ and ‘ahhhing’ as we walk through here.
The large church showing the mosaic floors as we approach the pulpit.
Mosaic floors of St. Peter's Basilica
There are 45 alters and 11 chapels within the church and it has one of the longest naves in the world, most definitely in Italy at 91 meters (299’).  It holds about 15,000 people inside on 10,000 square feet of mosaics on the floor.
The small service is held at the front of this huge beautiful church
Sunbeams inside St. Peter's Basilica
Cameras are allowed inside the Basilica, which doesn’t happen for many churches of this kind, depending on what is inside. Flashes will damage paintings and other displays.  As a result, I got several sunbeams streaming through my photos. The technical term is crepuscular rays but besides ‘sunbeam’, other terms more often used are ‘stairways to Heaven’, ‘divine light’ and even more. Whatever they are called, they added a special ambience to our incredible visit to St. Peter’s Basilica.
The obelisk stands in the center of St. Peter's Plaza
The Vatican Obelisk
 This Vatican obelisk was first brought to Rome from Egypt in AD37 to decorate Nero’s Circus which once stood on the very sight of today’s Basilica. The red granite obelisk is 25.5 meters (84 ft) high and stands 41 meters (135’) to the top of the cross.  It was moved onto this spot from one side of the old St. Peter’s in 1586 and it is noted to be about 4400 years old.
We are looking across St. Peter's Plaza to the St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Plaza in Vatican City, Italy
This square can hold up to 300,000 people without it being too crowded.  It often fills for papal events held here including when watching for smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel to indicate a new pope has been elected.  There are weekly services held on Wednesdays and Sundays with seats for many and a large screen for those in the crowd to be able to better view the pope.  Click here to learn more about times of services and getting the free tickets that are required.
The guards stand at the gate guarding the pope.
Swiss guards at St. Peter's Basilica in Italy
The Swiss guards have been protecting the pope since 1506 which was also when construction began on this church to replace the original one.  Michelangelo, the first fashion designer in history, designed the uniforms that are still worn to this day.
The colonnade with statues on top, surrounds the plaza.
Colonnade at St. Peter's Plaza in Vatican City, Rome
The colonnade that surrounds St. Peter’s Square consists of four rows with 284 columns and is topped off with statues of 140 saints. Some have said that the shape of the colonnade resemble the arms of the church embracing all of humanity and when you get a full view of the Plaza, it definitely gives a look of welcome, one that all can enjoy.
To see our visit to the Vatican Museums, click here.


Related Posts with Thumbnails