September 22, 2014

St. Peter's Basilica

On our first evening in Rome this summer we took a sightseeing tour of the Eternal City's famous buildings and monuments, which included a brief photo stop at St. Peter's Square. The next morning we returned to visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica. 

St. Peter's Square at Dusk
Bernini's Colonnade

At the conclusion of our visit to the Vatican Museums, we took a shortcut from the Sistine Chapel to the basilica's entrance.

Shortcut from the Vatican Museums to St. Peter's

St. Peter's Square was filled with sightseers gathered around the Egyptian obelisk while others sought the shade of Bernini's colonnade.

St. Peter's Square and the Obelisk

The Colonnade

St. Peter's Basilica

Swiss Guards are posted at the entrances to Vatican City. Legend says that Michelangelo designed their colourful uniforms.

Vatican Swiss Guard

The basilica's Holy Door is opened only once very 25 years by the reigning Pope, who knocks three times with a silver hammer.

The Holy Door

Behind the Holy Door is Michelangelo's Pieta, now protected by bullet-proof glass.

Michelangelo's Pieta

Along the length of the central nave, floor markers compare the size of St. Peter's to other great churches of the world, including St. Paul's in London and the Duomo in Florence.

The Nave of St. Peter's

Faithful visitors line up to kiss the right toe of a bronze statue of St. Peter or view a niche containing the body of Pope John XXIII.

Statue of St. Peter

Body of Pope John XXIII

Another niche beneath the main altar contains the tomb of St. Peter.

Niche with St. Peter's Tomb

All of the basilica's paintings have been replaced by copies made of tiny mosaic tiles but much of the original ornamentation remains.

Mosaic Copy of Raphael's Transfiguration

Basilica Ceiling

For more photos of St. Peter's Basilica, including Michelangelo's dome and Bernini's dove window, see my earlier post Rome and the Vatican from a previous visit to Rome.

Next:  Rome's Jewish Ghetto and Pantheon Neighbourhood

Related Post:
The Vatican Museums

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