S t. Peter's Basilica was first consecrated in the year 326.
over the grave of St. Peter, the church was commissioned by
Constantine the Great. As the centuries passed, St. Peter's
more imposing and opulent. Yet, by the time of Pope Julius It's
reign, it had steadily degenerated. In 1506, the Pope ordered
rebuilding of the Basilica, and hired four of the leading
Renaissance artists and architects to work on his ambitious
Bramante, Raphael, Sangallo, Michelangelo and Maderno
another to reconstruct this majestic ode to Christendom.
18, 1626 marked the inauguration of the world's largest
The church covers a total area of 163,011 square feet
stands 695 feet tall (212m), portico included, and is 453 feet
wide (138m). A collection of statues representing Jesus, St
Baptist and Christ's disciples, with the exception of St. Peter,
crown the Basilica's facade. The interior houses some of
most monumental works of art.
St. Peter's Square forms an integral part of the Basilica. The
quadruple colonnade, made to represent two arms poised to
the faithful, was one of the final undertakings of Gianlorenzo
Bernini, a master of baroque art, sculpture and design. The
is 1,115 feet long (340m) and 787 feet wide (240m). Its top is
supported by 284 columns and 88 pillars 60 feet tall (2()m), and
bordered by a splendid balustrade featuring 140 statues of
The obelisk, once housed in Caligula's and Nero's
forms the Square's centerpiece. The magnificent fountains that
the Basilica, and the enormous statues of St. Peter and St. Paul
which frame the stairs leading to the church, also contribute to
this celebrated sanctuary's truly imposing appearance.