The magnificent St. Peter's Basilica is visited every year by pilgrims from all over the world and is one of the largest churches ever built (it has a total area of approximately 23,000 m^2). The current building replaced a previous basilica of the age of Constantine and was erected in 1506 by Pope Julius II; however, the work was completed only in 1667 during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII with the completion of the square by Gian Lorenzo Bernini: he made the impressive colonnades side, well supported by 284 columns of the Doric order, which we still admire today during filming, topped by 140 statues over 3 meters high. Just moving yourself on one of the disks of porphyry inserted in the pavement of the square you can admire all of the columns, as if they had magically aligned.
You can access the basilica along the wide stairway of three shelves, renovated by Bernini, and pass one of the five gates disposed along the length of the porch of 71 meters, aligned at the five entrance gates to the Basilica: the porch and the façade were built by the architect Carlo Maderno.
Entering the basilica is impossible not to be amazed by the extraordinary sense of harmony and balance, which pervades the entire building, extraordinary played on solids and voids, and beautifully rich in marbles and paintings: in fact each of the altars and chapels of the aisles gets home to several masterpieces of great historical and artistic value, starting from the first aisle, where you can admire the famous statue of the "Pietà" by Michelangelo, which the brilliant artist realized at the age of 23; in other chapels are visible other important works, such as the bronze statue of Saint Peter, attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio, with the foot worn by the caresses of the faithful, or the dazzling baroque altar of Santa Cecilia, built by Bernini. Advancing in the nave, you can reach the heart of the Basilica: behind the monumental canopy of St. Peter, at the place of the alleged relics of the First Apostle, you will find preserved the medieval wooden throne of the Chair of St. Peter, as allocated by the legend.
But the visit to the Basilica is not limited to the ground floor: it is possible to go below the floor to so-called Vatican Grottoes, which houses the tomb of Peter and those of other popes, including John Paul II, or climb to the top of the cupola, designed by Michelangelo and 133.30 meters high: the path is quite steep and absolutely not recommended for those suffering from claustrophobia, but from the top you can really enjoy a splendid view over the city of Rome and the neighbors Vatican Gardens.
Opening hours: from 7.00 to 18.00 every day except Wednesdays.
Admission is free, including the visit to the dome.