Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano
- Piazza San Pietro
St. Peter’s Basilica (15,000 square metres) is the most fascinating place in the world. The church was rebuilt starting in 1506 by Donato Bramante, on the orders of Julius II, atop the Constantine-era basilica from the 6th century. The church has perhaps undergone more changes throughout its construction than any other. Bramante envisioned it to be a Greek-cross plan, but in 1514 Antonio da Sangallo and Raphael redesigned it to be a longitudinal plan, later transformed into a sort of central plan by Michelangelo in 1547. But it wasn’t until Carlo Maderno, who also designed the façade, that the basilica was completed (1626). In addition to priceless relics and interesting tombs, there are many masterpieces inside St. Peter’s, including the Pietà, sculpted and - unusually - signed by young Michelangelo, and the lavish canopy by Bernini. The Throne of Saint Peter is also by Bernini, as is the ovoid portico in the piazza. The bronze statue of the saint is by Arnolfo di Cambio, while the towering round dome is by Michelangelo, who was inspired by Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence. In the Vatican Grottos, there are many papal tombs and ruins of the ancient basilica, one of which may be the tomb of St. Peter. The ciborium by Donatello and the Byzantine-era Holy Column are instead conserved in the museum.