Built on the site of the martyrdom of Peter the Apostole, Saint Peter's Basilica stands at the center of the Christian world.
It's the world's largest church, situated within the world's smallest state. But just as much as the size, it's the splendor that enchants every one of Saint Peter's visitors.
Great artists such as Michelangelo, Bramante, and Bernini have each left their mark on Saint Peter's Basilica, renovating the original 4th century basilica built by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great.
Read on to discover Saint Peter's Basilica's fascinating history and the figures who have shaped it to become such a global symbol.
Saint Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world and the main of the 4 Major Basilica, all of which in Rome, was built in the 4th century by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, on the site where the tradition places the martyrdom of St. Peter, the first Pope of the Christian Church, executed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero inside the Vatican Circus, right next to the ancient Egyptian obelisk still standing today at the center of Saint Peter's square.
Indeed, the tomb of Peter, one of the Christ's Apostles meaning in greek stone, is supposedly directly below the altar of the Basilica, and for this reason many Popes have decided to rest for eternity right next to.
Bramante was the man mainly responsible for Saint Peter's total renovation in the 1500s. He designed the historic basilica in the Renaissance style, and, inspired by the Pantheon, designed a circular dome at the center of a Greek cross structure supported by four pillars.
The construction of the dome, later redesigned into an oval shape by Michelangelo, was carried out by one of his students, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola and completed by Giacomo della Porta together with Domenico Fontana.
Carlo Maderno, nephew of Domenico Fontana, and Bernini will then complete the construction of the facade, the embellishment of the inside of the basilica and the construction of the Great Colonnade, marking the transition to the baroque architecture, made of surprising dimensions, creativity and harmony.
The Dome is not the only landmark left by Michelangelo. Within one of Saint Peter's chapels stands his famous Pietà who sees his signature in the belt of the Virgin Mary, but also fascinating is the famous bronze canopy by Bernini above which rises the dome, called Cuppolone by the Romans.
The Baroque touch is visible in the colonnade of Bernini composed by 284 Doric columns and 88 pillars that surround the entire basilica Travertine thought of as the symbolic embrace of the faithful alike.
The Basilica is open every day from 7:00 am to 7 pm, April to September and from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm, October to March.
Please cover your sholder. No skirts and shorts above knees allowed.
Daily Mass Schedule: 9-10-11-12-17h.
Sundays and Holiday Mass Schedule: 9-10.30-11.30-12.15-13-16-17.45
Visits to the Dome of St. Peter’s are possible every day from 8.00 to 18.00, April to September and from 8.00 to 17.00, October to March. The entrance is at the portico of the Basilica.
Saint Angel's Castle and Museum
Cola di Rienzo (Shopping)
Da Arlu (Restaurant)
Known by the Romans as "Er Cupolone", the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica has always influenced the lives and views of people living in and travelling to Rome. For being the highest building in the city center, the dome has inspired local and international artists to write and compose their songs and movies catching at each corner the view and imagination with its majesty.
The most famous song for the Romans inspired by the dome is undoubtdely Roma Capoccia from Antonello Venditti, where Rome is the capital of the world, with its majestic Colosseum and its holy Basilica makes life more real and nicer, especially at sunset when time has decided to stop.