Anyone who knows me will be able to explain to you my love for Rome and in particular St. Peters. I am not religious, but when walking into St.Peters I can’t help but get a feel of the power/strength that religion oozes. I also very easily get distracted by the beautiful marble floors, columns, Bernini/Michelangelo sculptures so yes… I am a History of Art graduate in heaven.
I visited St. Peters early in the morning (arriving 8:15ish) and found no queue for security or entry to the Basilica. With it being Joe’s first time to Rome I was of course dancing around the Basilica like a moth does a flame. Bernini here, Michelangelo there… divine.
Now for a little quick fact check:
The basilica is 275,000 square feet, has 44 altars, 11 domes, 778 columns, 395 statues and 135 mosaics. The Nave is 613 feet long, the transept 460 feet wide and therefore it is the largest church in the world (Seminarian Guides North American College, Rome). It is basically the height of a football pitch on its side.“St Peters Basilica is a monument to Peter, whom Jesus tapped as chief apostle, declaring that Peter was the rock on which he would build the church” (Geographic,2016). St. Peter came to Rome in the 1st Millennium along with Paul to spread the faith. He was then arrested and martyred, put on an inverted cross (Caravaggio, crucifixion of St. Peter, 1601). It was thought that his bones were buried in Vatican Hill. This is the reason that the Basilica was built there.
A contest was held for the design of St.Peters and Bramante won (go Bra!) – side note- other entries for this competition can be seen in the Uffizi gallery.
Unfortunately Bramante died before completion of the design of the Church and thus a series of Architects became involved, firstly Raphael who altered Bramante’s design, then Antonio da Sangallo. All with little construction. When Sangallo died, Michelangelo succeeded him and returned to the original Bramante work claiming ‘whoever departs from Bramante, departs from the truth’ (Raphael you just got served).
The construction of the main Dome is a very complicated matter which I will not delve into, all you need to know is that Bramante’s was complicated, and Michelangelo’s even more so.
When visiting St.Peters you can go all the way to the top of the Dome up some wonderfully tight staircases (avoid if claustrophobic or prone to dizziness)! I’d highly recommend getting the lift up half way (for a fee) and walking the rest (I’ve tried both and trust me the lift is worth it) – you finally get to this amazing view on top:
The square was of course added on later and designed by Bernini, but if anyone has watched Angels and Demons you’d get all giddy like me walking around looking for Bernini’s mosaics.
Violet xx No Shrinking Violet