The present Basilica of San Pietro di Castello building dates from the 16th century, but a church has stood on the site since at least the 7th century. From 1451 to 1807, it was the city's cathedral church, though hardly playing the usual dominant role of a cathedral, as it was overshadowed by the 'state church' of San Marco, and inconveniently located.
During its history the church has undergone a number of alterations and additions by some of Venice's most prominent architects. In 1558 Andrea Palladio received his first commission in the city of Venice from the Patriarch Vincenzo Diedo to re-build the facade and interior of St Pietro, but Diedo's death delayed the project.
After St Mark's Basilica became Venice’s official cathedral (it had previously been the private church of the Doge), San Pietro fell into a state of disrepair. It was firebombed during the First World War and only through the efforts of conservation organisations has it been restored to its former state.
The church exhibits a muted facade compared to other Palladian designs in Venice. It features a prominent set of four engaged columns with Composite capitals supporting the main pediment and entablature. This is then flanked by a double broken pediment.
The church has a large dome which indicates the church's eccleasiastical importance, sharing an affinity with San Giorgio Maggiore and Il Redentore both churches designed by Palladio. The dome is supported on a drum which has rectangular windows cut into it to let light into the building.
The church's campanile is one of the most precarious in Venice.
The building has a large central nave with Latin aisles. The transept crosses the church, separating the nave from the presbytery. The crossing point is capped by a large dome. The Vendramin Chapel, located off the left aisle, was designed by the baroque architect Baldassarre Longhena, as was the high altar which he constructed during the middle of the 17th century. The organ was constructed by the Dalmatian craftsman Pietro Nachini who was working in Venice during the 18th century.
The church contains only a few notable works of art including SS John the Evangelist, Peter and Paul by Paolo Veronese and the altarpiece in the Vendramin Chapel by Luca Giordano. The church also contains the Throne of St Peter, a 13th-century seat cut from a funeral stone.References:
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.
Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.
Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.
The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.