St. Peter's Basilica

Vatican, Vatican City State

Saint Peter's Basilica is the center of Christianity in Vatican city state. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and one of the largest churches in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter's is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines.

Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of St. Peter, one of Christ's Apostles and also the first Pope; supposedly, St. Peter's tomb is directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, replacing the Old St. Peter's Basilica of the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.

St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage and for its liturgical functions. The Pope presides at a number of liturgies throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Basilica or the adjoining St. Peter's Square.

St. Peter's has many historical associations, with the Early Christian Church, the Papacy, the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-reformation and numerous artists, especially Michelangelo. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age. St. Peter's is one of the four churches in the world that hold the rank of Major Basilica, all four of which are in Rome. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a cathedral because it is not the seat of a bishop; the Cathedra of the Pope as Bishop of Rome is in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.


St. Peter's central dome dominates the skyline of Rome. The basilica is approached via St. Peter's Square, a forecourt in two sections, both surrounded by tall colonnades. The first space is oval and the second trapezoid. The façade of the basilica, with a giant order of columns, stretches across the end of the square and is approached by steps on which stand two 5.55 metres statues of the 1st-century apostles to Rome, Saints Peter and Paul.

The basilica is cruciform in shape, with an elongated nave in the Latin cross form but the early designs were for a centrally planned structure and this is still in evidence in the architecture. The central space is dominated both externally and internally by one of the largest domes (designed by Michelangelo) in the world. The entrance is through a narthex, or entrance hall, which stretches across the building. One of the decorated bronze doors leading from the narthex is the Holy Door, only opened during jubilees.



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Founded: 1506-1626
Category: Religious sites in Vatican City State


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

MLC (2 months ago)
St. Peter's Basilica is a stunning testament to the architectural and artistic prowess of our ancestors. Upon entering this breathtaking edifice, I found myself in a state of awe as my gaze swept across the intricate designs and majestic grandeur that adorned every corner. The painstaking detail and craftsmanship that went into creating this magnificent structure left my mouth agape in sheer wonder. The contrast between the awe-inspiring beauty of St. Peter's Basilica and the architectural designs of our modern era is staggering. The artistry and innovation displayed by our forebears are truly unparalleled, and it's humbling to witness the sheer magnitude of their creative vision. Standing in the presence of such timeless beauty, I couldn't help but marvel at the skill and dedication of those who brought this awe-inspiring masterpiece to life. St. Peter's Basilica is a living testament to the enduring legacy of human creativity and serves as a poignant reminder of the inimitable genius of our ancestors.
Rawad Shararah (2 months ago)
St. Peter’s Basilica is nothing short of breathtaking. Its grandeur, intricate details, and spiritual significance make it an architectural wonder. The sheer size and beauty of the interior, adorned with stunning artworks and intricate designs, are awe-inspiring. Climbing to the top offers a panoramic view of Rome that’s truly unforgettable. Despite occasional crowds, the serenity and reverence within this sacred space remain palpable. A visit here is an essential part of experiencing the history, art, and spirituality that Rome has to offer.
Mark Vasquez (2 months ago)
Wow. What an experience. The entry is free, and the best time to get in line is 9-11 a.m. wait is worthwhile, and lines move fast. Can bring water and backpacks. Cathedral is a work of art and breathtaking. Artwork at every step. Great gift shop. We spent an easily 4 hours with still more to see. This is a must see-do experience
Christopher Reynolds (3 months ago)
This is probably the most ornate, glamorous, and awe-striking church in the world. The grandeur and absolute luxury of the building is striking. It made me feel very small to stand beside the statues that are so much larger than life. It is staggering to think the amount of effort that went into constructing this church. the courtyard was also very beautiful and enjoyable to experience. This is definitely a place to see when you’re in Rome.
Langston Wells (3 months ago)
The most incredible building I've ever been inside. So expansive and glorious. The gold finishes, sculptures, mosaics and marble line floor to ceiling. There is an obscene amount of tourists but it is still incredibly beautiful. I would love to see it when there are no tourists to experience a service or meditation in the space.
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