Michelangelo is credited with executing the final design. He retained and some feel enhanced certain aspects of
Bramante's original design, although he clearly added new elements.
St. Peter's is an extremely large church that can hold over 50,000
visitors. The facade of this glorious building was designed and
executed by Maderno in the 17th century. The facade is topped
with an attic that is crowned with a statues of Christ and the Apostles.
Although many complain that the facade is poorly designed, we think it fits
just right, giving the entrance for stately, formal look.
additions to Saint Peter's
(for example, the nave added by Maderno) were made to finish the
building for its official consecration in the early 17th century. It
is relatively easy to notice the additions to the original plan.
The interior of Saint Peter's features an number
of outstanding artistic triumphs. Gianlorenzo Bernini worked on
decorating the Basilica for most of his life and his bronze Baldachchino
underneath the dome and above the altar is regarded by many as his best
work. In a curious footnote to history, a portion of the bronze
that was used to create the Badacchino was harvested from the Pantheon.
Bernini"s St. Peter's Chair (Cattedra Petri), located in the apse of
the Basilica is another of his incredible
works. The throne is encased by a stunning set of statues of the
Doctors of the Church (Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Athanasius and John Chyrsostom) illuminated by natural light shining through colored glass.
The overall effect of the work, (see below) is awe inspiring.
There are many features and much artistry to see in Saint Peter's and we
suggest you take a guided tour to add to your appreciation of this important
If you are a follower of Catholic
history, you might be interested in seeing the excavations
beneath the Basilica.
require advanced reservations. For information on visiting see the
official Vatican website. (Use Google Translator, if the English
language version of the site is not available).
The dome of St. Peter's is a visual extravaganza and an architectural
masterpiece. It is reputed to be one of the tallest domes in the world
and also one of the largest. Unlike many other domes of this type, its
14,000 tons of weight are supported by four large piers, rather than by a continuous wall.
There is a fee to visit the top of the dome, and steps to climb after the
lift, but the view of the Vatican is worth the effort.
The Pieta ("The Pity") by Michelangelo is one of his most famous
works and was completed during a two-year period early in the "Master's"
career. Dating from the beginning of the 16th century, the Pieta is
renowned for its realistic look and the choice of youthful-looking, serene Virgin Mary
as she holds Christ's body shortly after the Crucifixion. Located in
what is known as the Pieta Chapel, the Pieta is protected by glass, due to
an unfortunate incident in 1972 when a deranged man attacked and
damaged the statue with a hammer (it has since been repaired).
this page from the Vatican's website for practical information on
visiting St. Peters.
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