Vatican City Attractions
In the era of ancient Rome, this place between the Tiber and two hills – Yanikul and Vatican, was occupied by the circus of Nero. Here he was martyred and the Apostle Peter was buried. Under Pope Anaclet, a small tomb basilica was built on this site.
In 324, Emperor Constantine replaced the modest tomb with a basilica in the style typical of the early Christian churches of Rome. Completed in 349 by Constantius, the son of Constantine, this basilica over time has been significantly enriched by the generous gifts of the popes and wealthy donors. It was here, in this basilica of Constantine, that Charlemagne in 800 received the crown from the hands of Pope Leo III, and after him the emperors Lothar, Louis II and Frederick III were crowned here.
Construction of the current cathedral building
A thousand years after its founding, the Basilica of St. Peter turned into ruins, and only with Pope Nicholas V, on the advice of Leon Battista Alberti, the restoration and expansion of the basilica based on the project of Bernardo Rossellino began. In the midst of construction, when the construction of the new department began, all work was stopped due to the death of Pope Nicholas V. And only in 1506 under Pope Julia II, construction work was resumed. Most of the former basilica was destroyed by Bramante (who received the title of master destroyer), who decided to rebuild the building in a modern classical style: that is, the building should have a Greek cross in plan, modeled after the Pantheon. For half a century, the architects Fra Giocondo, Rafael, Giuliano da Sangallo the Younger and, finally, Michelangelo, who modified the Bramante project, increased the size of the cathedral and crowned it with a huge dome, participated in the construction of the cathedral.
Following Michelangelo, masters such as Vignola, Pirro Ligorio, Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana worked here, who strictly followed the principles bequeathed to Michelangelo. Then, under Pope Paul V, it was decided to re-plan the building of the basilica, returning to the idea of the Latin cross. To this end, the architect Carlo Maderna added three chapels on each side of the building and extended the nave to the size of the modern facade, which became the subject of a design competition in which Maderna won. The work was begun by him in 1607 and completed in 1612. For the construction, “whole mountains of travertine from Tivoli quarries” were required.
The facade of the cathedral is striking in its powerful forms, the solemn rhythm of the Corinthian columns and pilasters of the central portal and side arches. The top is decorated with nine balconies. The crowning element is a traditional attic with a balustrade, on which thirteen huge statues of the Apostles, Christ and John the Baptist rise.
And finally, all this is dominated by a magnificent dome with powerful ribs – the creation of Michelangelo. On both sides of it are two smaller domes, crowning the chapels of Gregorian and Clementine, made by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola.
Interior of St. Peter’s Basilica
After the death of Carlo Madern, which followed in 1629, the work in the cathedral was headed by the brilliant architect Lorenzo Bernini. He gave the cathedral a pronounced Baroque color. It is enough to mention the decoration of the central and lateral naves, the creation of the famous bronze canopy (started in 1624 and opened on St. Peter’s day in 1633), as well as the decoration of the pilasters of the base of the dome with four huge statues and, finally, the erection of the St. Peter’s Cathedral , which is one of Bernini’s most magnificent architectural achievements. It includes an old wooden pulpit, with which, according to legend, the apostle Peter himself preached. Pope Alexander VII, who financed the construction of this department, also commissioned Bernini to finalize St. Peter’s Square. Under Pope Clement X, the architect designed the civorium in the form of a small round temple located in the Holy Communion Chapel.
Numerous chapels go around the entire perimeter of St. Peter’s Basilica, each of which is beautiful in its own way, especially the Pieta Chapel, named after the famous sculptural group Michelangelo – Pieta, which the young master sculpted in 1499-1500 by order of the French cardinal Jean Billera de Lagrol .
This is followed by the Chapel of St. Sebastian with a tombstone of Pius XII by sculptor Francesco Messina; Chapel of the Holy Communion with civore Bernini and a bronze fence made by Francesco Borromini; The Gregorian Chapel, made at the end of the 16th century by the architect Giacomo della Porta, is richly decorated with mosaics and precious marble; Chapel of the Column with a delightful altar image of marble depicting the Meeting of Leo with Attila, the work of Algardi, as well as with the tombs of popes named Leo – II, III, IV and XII; The Clementine Chapel, commissioned by Pope Clement XIII by the architect Giacomo della Porta, which stores the remains of St. Gregory the Great, as well as the remains of the architect himself; Luxurious Chapel of the Choirs with gilded trim…