Designed mainly by Michelangelo, Donato Bramante, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Maderno, St. Peter’s Basilica is without question the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture, and is still today one of the largest churches in the world. Today St. Peter’s Basilica is regarded as one of the holiest sites holding a unique position to Catholics. St. Peter’s Basilica was originally founded in 324 by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, and rebuilding done during the Renaissance period. Construction of the present New St. Peter’s Basilica, replacing the Old St. Peter’s Basilica of the 4th century AD, began with Pope Julius II in 1506 and completed more then a century later in 1626 under Pope Paul V.
The Basilica is designed as a 3-aisled Latin cross and some of the astonishing things to see at St. Peter’s Basilica include the St. Peter’s Square; providing a grand approach to the great church, the square is an enormous square with two beautiful fountains, an obelisk dating back to the 13th century, a colonnade by Bernini, and 140 statues of saints crafted by many sculptors from 1662 to 1703. The marvelous exterior of the Basilica; it’s dome designed by Michelangelo, the façade some 116 m wide and 53 m high with a central balcony called the “Loggia of the Blessings,” used for the announcement of the new pope. The façade is also topped by 13 statues in travertine that include St. Peter’s statue. The amazing interior of St. Peter’s Basilica; the largest church in the world (the new Basilica of Yamoussoukro surpassed it), the Bernini’s Baldacchino, the central focus-monumental canopy shelters of the papal altar, the Nave – a large round porphyry slab, the Right Aisle and Right Transept – Michelangelo’s beautiful Pietà (sculpture of Virgin Mary cradling dead Jesus after crucifixion), The Confessio – 17th century chapel, the Four Piers – that support the huge dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Cupola and Inscriptions of Matthew 16:18-19, in 8 ft. letters large. The Cathedra (Throne) of St. Peter, an enormous gilded bronze monument created by Bernini. Left Transept and Left Aisle – an ancient altar with an image of Virgin Mary. The Crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica – underneath the basilica should be visited containing fragments of earlier churches. The Dome and Roof of St. Peter’s Basilica; the views from the gallery around the cupola of Michelangelo’s dome provide an astonishing sense of grandness.
St Peter’s is famous site for Christians traveling on Holy Land tours from Israel to Rome and vise versa. The basilica offers liturgical functions, drawing tourist and audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people. It is a place where the Pope can be heard, and in architecture, it’s regarded as the greatest building of its time. The basilica is also one of four churches in the world that hold the rank of Major Basilica (all four are in Rome), and a must visit for pilgrims traveling on a Holy Land trip.