Basilica of St. Peter
What you need to know
The Basilica di San Pietro (Basilica of St. Peter) is the largest church in the world. It covers around 22,000 square metres and its cupola stands 136 metres high. The basilica was first built in the mid 4th century during the pontificate of Silvester I. Pope Julius II later assigned Bramante the task of expanding the church, but this caused a dispute among a group of artists who were divided between a plan in the form of a Greek Cross (Michelangelo, Peruzzi and Bramante) and one in the form of a Latin Cross (Raffaello and Sangallo). Paul V eventually decided upon the Latin Cross and assigned the work to Carlo Maderno, who finished the Basilica in the early 1600s. The basilica’s stairs were designed by Bernini as were also St. Peter’s Square and its famous colonnade, and the canopy inside. Michelangelo designed the cupola for the Basilica of St. Peter but never saw its completion, which was taken over by Fontana and Della Porta. The façade erected by Carlo Maderno is 115 metres wide and more than 40 metres high, supported by giant columns. In front of the façade are the two grand statues of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Basilica of St. Peter at a Glance
When to visit: All year round
Opening hours: From November to March: 07:00 to 18:00. From April to October: 07:00 to 19:00.
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