St Peter’s Basilica is an iconic landmark of the Vatican City. For my readers and friends who are not aware of Vatican City, it is the World’s smallest state within the Roman enclave in Italy. The city is governed by the Holy Pope, the Head of the Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome.
St Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the World, renowned for its magnificent architectural beauty representing the ancient Renaissance style. It is one of the most popular religious and historical sites, visited by thousands of visitors from all over the world.
The History behind St Peter’s Basilica
It is believed that the Church is built on the burial ground of Saint Peter. He was one of the 12 disciples of Lord Jesus Christ and assumed a leadership position after the crucifixion of the Lord. The construction of the church started way back on 18th April 1506 by the legendary Pope Julius II and marked its completion on 18th November 1626 under the supervision of Paul V. The church was designed by Michelangelo, Donato Bramante, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Carlo Maderno. It has been enlisted as one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in the year 1984.
The Incredible Architecture
The design of St Peter’s Basilica was curated after drawing inspirations from the phenomenal huge Greek Cross and the prominent Roman temple of the Pantheon. The shape of the church hence represents that of a cruciform. The approach towards the church is through the St. Peter’s Square. The Square is a huge open space, dominating the city with its grandeur and majestic presence.
The key beauty of the building is the central dome soaring high above the sky. It rules the sky of Vatican City, proclaiming its divine beauty and religious significance. The entrance to the church is through an enormous hall that stretches across the entire building area. As you climb up the steps to enter into the Church, you will be greeted with the huge statues of the two famous apostles of the Lord – Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
The interior of St Peter’s Basilica is considered to host one of the spectacular architectural marvels. Adorned by outstanding designs and sculptures in its walls, ceilings, and columns, the Church illustrates the sheer brilliance of the architects, designers and the developers of ancient Rome. You will be amazed to observe the artistic beauty, marvelously carved out of marble.
There are 2 tower clocks at the façade of the Basilica. Then the façade is also ornate by the statues of Christ, St John and the other eleven apostles of the Lord. There are about 6 bells in the Church, all of which are operated electrically. There are said to be about 100 tombs inside the Basilica.
Timings and Entry
The Basilica opens at 7 AM in the morning every day and closes at 7 PM during the summer season from April till September and at 6:30 PM in the evening during the winter season from October till March. There is no entry fee for visiting the Church. Only there is an admission fee if you want to visit the Cupola or the Vatican Treasury. It takes approximately 1-2 hours to tour around the Basilica and if you are an ardent photographer then you will need much more time since there are exotic pieces of sculpture to be captured in your camera.
How to reach the Basilica?
The Basilica is easily accessed by bus and metro services from anywhere in Rome. Many tourists prefer the bus as you can experience the beauty of the city from the glass windows. Well if you love strolling and walking down the streets, then you can also opt to do so. The weather is quite pleasant and comfortable in the city with beautiful bridges and walking trails.
Hope I was able to provide a short tour of the Basilica. Please remember you need to follow a particular dress code while entering the Church. Women are not allowed to wear skirts with length above knee and men are not allowed to wear shorts, only long trousers. Both need to cover their shoulders.