The stateliness of Carlo Maderno’s seventeenth century façade hints at the immensity of St. Peter’s Basilica inside, which today remains one of the largest churches in the world.
The old Basilica of St. Peter, whose vast size was similar to today’s, was built at around 320 by the Emperor Constantine on the site where, tradition has it, the Apostle St. Peter was buried.
Over the centuries and under a number of different papacies, the long process was launched which, within the space of about two hundred years and thanks to the genial contribution of artists such as Bramante, Michelangelo and Bernini, led to the complete overhaul of the early Constantine church.
The dome dominating the skyline is the fruit of Michelangelo’s vision. Its amazing size and harmony is best appreciated by bravely climbing its steps. Rest assured, your efforts will be rewarded by both a close up inspection of the cupola’s magnificent internal decorations and the awe-inspiring panorama waiting for you at the top.
Michelangelo’s masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture the Pietà, where many a visitor remains mesmerized by its combination of technical purity and emotional impact, arguably stands out among the St. Peter’s countless artistic attractions.