St Peter’s Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica

From the Sistine Chapel, hubby and I, and our tour group, followed our local guide, keeping an eye on her colourful-scarf-attached-to-an-aerial, to the front entrance of St Peter’s – the most famous church in Christendom.  ‘Most of the great architects of the Renaissance and Baroque had a hand in the design of the Basilica’.

‘St Peter was buried in AD 64 in a necropolis near the site of his crucifixion in the Circus of Nero.  In AD 324 Constantine constructed a basilica over the tomb.  The old church was rebuilt in the 15th century, and throughout the 16th and 17th centuries various architects developed the existing structure.  The new church was inaugurated in 1626’          ..     Eyewitness Travel : Italy



We had to mill around for a short time outside for our tour guide to get our tickets.  I always found it odd .. before entering places of interest tour guides always ‘purchase’ the tickets on arrival.  I suppose it makes sense tho’ as they don’t know the exact numbers at the time.  And also, entry for tour groups are controlled because of the numbers in one place at the same time.    Anyway, milling around gave us an opportunity to take some pics ..


Filarete Doors .. bronze doors from the old basilica were decorated with biblical reliefs by Filarete between 1439 and 1445 ..

IMG_4766… and there she is .. our local guide with her colourful-scarf-attached-to-an-aerial (which has seen better days!)  .. not our guide .. the colourful-scarf-attached-to-an-aerial !!!   …


It was incredible to stand from this angle, on the steps of St Peter’s Basilica, looking down over St Peter’s Square, down the street and beyond imagining it filled with Harley’s, bikers and onlookers like ourselves as we had experienced the previous day !!!!!!!    We got as far as the white boarding on the left – a little in front of it – looking from here we were still very far away !!


Looking up from where I stood … the balcony and library window from which the Pope ‘blesses the faithful gathered in the piazza below’



Inside St Peter’s Basilica … WOW  …   it’s huge !!   186m long ;  central aisle 46m high ;  main dome 136m high x 42m.  I don’t think I’ve seen photographs of the inside except for odd ones including the dome and Michelangelo’s Pietá.     It’s sooo ornate .. takes your breath away!   (for those like me who haven’t seen many photographs of the interior,  hubby and I took lots between us ;)! )


Above the main door ..

IMG_4776IMG_4781Michelangelo’s Pietá, behind glass, was created in 1499 when Michelangelo was only 25 ..



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IMG_4788 Baldacchino – the large Baroque sculpted bronze canopy over the high alter created by Bernini in 1624 …

IMG_4789IMG_4803Crypt of St Peter directly under the Baldacchino ..



Magnificent dome designed by Michelangelo, wasn’t completed in his lifetime …

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Two minor cupolas .. pic above and below ..  by Vignola (1507-73)




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Air vents for the crypt ..


Body of Pope John XXIII (died 1963) beneath the Altar of St Jerome ..

IMG_4798The Pope was petrified (a step towards sainthood) in 2000.  When the tomb was opened in order to move his body to the Basilica in 2001, it was found to be incorrupt (corpses that don’t decay) and was therefore placed in a glass case.  His hands and face are covered by plastic masks.


St Peter sits in front of a beautiful mosaic …

IMG_4801Below : that’s my hand touching St Peter’s foot.    Traditionally pilgrims used to kiss the foot of this 15th century bronze figure by Amolfo di Cambio, but the chappie in the black suit was there to make sure the queue of people didn’t linger and only touched the foot .. now smooth and shiny ..




Monument to Pope Alexander VII ..


Collages 218

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Aren’t they gorgeous .. larger than life cherubs  ..




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Time to leave this amazing and magnificent place.  I didn’t see one area inside that wasn’t decorated with marble or mosaic …      …. back outside in the St Peter’s Square …

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Walking behind the pillars to the gift shop and pick-up point for our coach ..



Intricate mosaics in the making ..


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Next stop .. a brief visit to the Ancient City.  Thank goodness hubby and I did it in depth on our own previous to the start of our tour, as it was brief.  But it was very interesting having a local guide this time

Trafalgar Tours : Best of Italy : June 2013  

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