Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican (Basilica Papale Maggiore di San Pietro in Vaticano) is a Roman Catholic church located on the St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. It was built between 1506 and 1626.
The Vatican is situated on hilly terrain. This area always was outside the city walls of Rome, in spite of the time after the administrative reforms introduced by Augustus; it was incorporated into the 14th century. In the first century, the emperor Caligula built Circus Arena where now is situated the St. Peter's Square, located on the left side looking at the basilica. Initially it was used for a chariot races. The arena was enlarged after the Nero's decision. In 64 or 67 Saint Peter was crucified upside down on the Circus Arena, according to the tradition. He was buried in a necropolis situated next to it. After the fire of Rome in 64 the Christians were tortured here on the Nero’s command. In the memory of all that events, Saint Peter's Basilica is situated exactly in the same place where over 2000 years ago have been standing Circus Arena.
The Circus fell into disrepair after the assassination of Nero. During the reign of Constantine the Great, in the 4th century, was built the church of St. Peter. If take under consideration the then times and possibilities, the temple was enormously big. In front of it was standing a fountain from which was preserved a cone. Currently it is in the Courtyard of Cones in the Vatican Museums. The church was made of wood and stone. In the 19th century in order to Pope Leo IV was situated a wall, called City Leonov, after the Arabian pirates attacked Rome. In these times was a tradition of burying dead Popes under the basilica. Also plenty of European monarchs were crowned here.
In the 15th century Constantine basilica was in poor condition. On the request of Nicholas V was launched rebuild in-depth but after his death the works were discontinued. It was resumed in the early 16th century by Donato Bramante. He was going to build a new basilica from the scratch. Its designed was based on a Greek cross with four chapels in the corners, where each was crowned with a tower. He hired plenty of workers to demolished an old church, that is way was given to him a nickname "ruinante" by the Romans. The architect's death had halted the construction. After that began a fierce battle between the greatest contemporary artists to take over the basilica's design. It took place till 1547 when Pope Paul III entrusted the task to Michaelangelo.
The master was living in the basilica for 17 years - until his death in 1564. "The Chamber of Michelangelo" was located next to the chapel of Leo I the Great. Despite the Buenarotti's reluctance to his predecessor the basic concept of the central system developed by Bramante was retained. Michelangelo made only certain simplifications, so that basilica became more compact and monolithic. In addition he strengthened the walls and pillars supporting the central dome. After the Master's death the project was taken over by faithful pupil Giacomo Barozzi da Vignole, and after by Giacomo della Porta. He was the one who completed the dome. After the construction was done, people began to criticize the project, it was said that it looks like "pagan" and is not covered with the original surface of the temple.
There was an idea to build something on to change the shapes. This task was entrusted to Carlo Moderna. He decided to add a triple-aisled basilica in the front of the St. Peter's Basilica. But he didn't take under consideration the fact that front part of the high elevation will cover monumental building of an existing temple. But Bramante wanted to continue to build a church on the Latin cross plan. The reconstruction work was taken by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. He created a project of monumental elliptical square placing in front of the basilica. It was built in 1655-1667 and was surrounded by a quadruple colonnade. This place with all ornaments, fountains and an Egyptian obelisk was going to stop the viewer, who thus can admire the dome as long as he wanted to. The basilica was consecrated 18 November 1626. In XVIII century the dome was strengthened by adding to its iron rings constructed by Luigi Vanwitello.
St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican is second the largest church in the world (the first is the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro). It is considered as one of the most important places for Christians in the whole world. According to tradition, the basilica stands on the St. Peter grave. The tomb of the first pope is under the main altar. In the temple are many tombs of other popes, including John Paul II.
Similar places by:
|Geographical coordinates||41.9027677, 12.4527610|
|Address||00120 Vatican City, Via del Fondamento|
|Construction dates||1506 - 1626|