This website does readability filtering of other pages. All styles, scripts, forms and ads are stripped. If you want your website excluded or have other feedback, use this form.

Basilica of Saint Peter, Vatican City State (Photo Archive)

Basilica of Saint Peter

The church of the Popes Vatican City State

Take me to the pictures! (11 photos in photo gallery)

The Basilica of Saint Peter is the most important place of worship in the Catholic Church. According to tradition it is built on top of the tomb of Saint Peter, and archaeological remains consistent with this tradition has been unearthed below the church.

18th century engraving by Piranesi

The current building is the second church on the location. In early antiquity the site was outside the city limits, in the Ager Vaticanus, but during the reign of Caligula a circus was built on the site. This circus in the Vatican was for horse races and gladiatorial fights, and criminals were publicly executed, often in cruel ways. Under Nero many Christians were executed in the circus, according to tradition also Saint Peter, who was buried in a tomb on the road just north of the circus. In the following centuries Christians came to the tomb to worship, which kept the memory alive.

When the Christian Church was officially recognised in the early 4th century under Constantine I, the land was bequeathed to the church and a basilica, the Constantinian Basilica, was built above the tomb. This basilica became an important centre in the Catholic Church and remained so for over a millennium, but during the Papacy's exile in Avignon the basilica fell in disrepair beyond all hope.

After the return of the Papacy to Rome, a new building was necessary and the Constantinian Basilica was demolished. The construction of the new basilica begun in 1506 and was finally completed in 1615, resulting in the present church after many changes of plans. Among the architects of the basilica are Donato Bramante, Rafael, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Carlo Maderno. The colonnade around the square in front of the church was added by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century.

The Basilica of Saint Peter contains many masterpieces of Renaissance and Baroque art, including the Pietà of Michelangelo and the Baldachin by Bernini, and several papal tombs. In the crypt below the church remnants of the Constantinian Basilica and of earlier Roman buildings and tombs can be seen, including the place where St. Peter is believed to have been buried.


Search for "Basilica of Saint Peter" on Google · AllTheWeb · AltaVista · Teoma

Photo gallery of 11 pictures for "Basilica of Saint Peter"

Prints of the photographs are available — read more here.

The pictures above are taken in the following locations:

Documents related to "Basilica of Saint Peter":

Documents linking to "Basilica of Saint Peter":

This page is linked under the names "Basilica of Saint Peter", "Basilica of St. Peter", "Saint Peter's Basilica", "St. Peter's Basilica", "Basilica di San Pietro", "Constantinian Basilica" and "Basilica Constantiniana".

Copyright © 2003 René Seindal, last changed 2003-08-06

Site Search Quicklinks Site Highlights · · · Copyright © 1999-2019 René Seindal · · · Venice Kayak - guided kayak tours in Venice, Italy