St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Rome

Historical Context

Regarded as one of the greatest Renaissance and Baroque buildings St Peter's replacing an earlier basilica, was begun under Pope Julius II in 1506 and completed in 1615 under Paul V. It stood as the largest church in the world until 1989. Today it stands in the shape of a Latin cross with the dome at the crossing over the high altar and the shrine to St Peter the Apostle. It is a significant site of pilgrimage and the burial place for many popes.

A number of architects contributed to its design, including Donato Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo, who was appointed chief architect in 1546 and served until his death in 1564. Carlo Maderno was responsible for its final Latin Cross design and the building's facade. Gian Lorenzo Bernini was commissioned to create the Basilica's monumental piazza.

The interior of the basilica includes many famous works of art such as Michelangelo’s Pietà, Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Baldachin structure over the altar and his tomb to Pope Urban VIII.

Photo Info


Location taken: Vatican City, Rome

Related Events

  • 1506-04-18 The cornerstone of the current St. Peter's Basilica is laid in the Vatican by Pope Julius II
  • 1626-11-18 St. Peter's Basilica is consecrated, replacing an earlier basilica on the same site and becoming the world's largest Christian basilica

Historical Photos