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. Continue reading