St. Peter Square

Showing all 2 results

St. Peter’s Basilica

Rome - St Peter Basilica - day view
Rome - St Peter Basilica  -  interiorRome - Michelangelo Pieta - particularRome - St Peter Basilica - interiorRome - St Peter Basilica - side viewRome - San Peter Square - detail

St Peter’s Basilica takes its name from the martyr Saint Peter, who was killed in 64 A.D. during the time when Nero was persecuting Christians.

The original Saint Peter’s Basilica was built by the Emperor Constantin, the first Christian Emperor, in memory of the martyr. The basilica became a symbol of the Christian religion as the official religion in the Roman Empire. The construction started in 324 A.D. and integrated Saint Peter’s grave; the basilica was then consecrated in 329.

By the end of the 15th century, the Saint Peter’s Basilica had fallen to disrepair. In 1503, the architect Bramante was asked to renovate it by Pope Julius II and construction began in 1506. Bramante decided to renovate the basilica following the form of a Greek cross covered by a dome however he died a few years after the renovations had begun. Michelangelo continued the renovation project after Bramante’s death and transformed the dome, taking part in its construction until his own death in 1564. The dome was eventually finished by Giacomo Della Porta in 1590.

Things to see

Many artists and architects worked on this massive undertaking. During the 17th century, Carlo Maderno was inspired by Michelangelo’s plans and built the façade of the Basilica. This façade is 115 meters long and 48 meters high, the capitals of its many columns decorated according to the Corinthian style. The balcony situated above main door is where the pope usually pronounces his blessings. It was the sculptor Bernini who finally finished Saint Peter’s Basilica in 1666.

Nowadays, with its 190 meters in length, the Saint Peter’s Basilica is able to welcome 20 000 people. It is possible to take the stairs to the summit of the dome, which offers a breathtaking view of Saint Peter’s square below and Rome all around.

Sistine Chapel

Rome - Sistine Chapel - the creation of Adam - Particular
Rome - Sistine Chapel  - Michelangelo's frescosRome - Sistine Chapel - detailRome - San Peter Square - detail

The Sistine Chapel is the most famous chapel of the Apostolic Palace. The Sistine Chapel belongs to the Vatican Museums and since it is considered as one of the museums of the complex, it is possible to visit its beauty.

The Sistine Chapel takes its name from the Pope Sixtus IV who ordered the renovation of the old chapel Cannella Magna between 1477 and 1480, however the chapel is most famous for the stunning Renaissance frescoes covering its walls and ceilings. Pope Julius II ordered the decoration of the ceiling to be done by Michelangelo, who painted 1100 square meters between 1508 and 1512.

Things to see

For many, this masterpiece is considered to be one of the best works ever realized by Michelangelo, particularly The Last Judgment located just behind the altar. This huge fresco was realized between 1536 and 1541. In the middle of the masterpiece, we can see Jesus Christ in a light halo; he is surrounded by Mary and several Saints expecting his final decision.

Once the fresco was finished, a huge scandal broke out because too many figures were judged obscene as they were painted naked. In 1564, the Congregation of the Council of Trent decided these figures should be covered and this task was given to the painter Daniele de Volterra. He had to paint draperies which would cover the private parts of the different characters. This earned the artist the nickname of “Braghettone”, which means “breeches maker”. Michelangelo was not the only artist who worked on the chapel; Botticelli, Domenico and Perugino all contributed several frescoes depicting the lives of Moses and Jesus Christ.

Since Pope Sixtus IV, the Sistine Chapel has been used for religious activities and papal meetings. Nowadays, the Sistine Chapel is open to the public as well as the place where the pope is elected.