St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican is the center of the Christian world. Emperor Constantin, the first Christian ruler of Rome, started building the church on the Vatican hill. The site was chosen for a symbolic reason, since on that spot there was a graveyard where both Christians and pagans were buried and where Saint Peter was crucified and buried.
The building itself is impressive, the greatest church in the world with no less than 45 altars and decorated with works of art from many famous artists. Some of the most important works of art are La Pietà by Michelangelo, the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter by Bernini and the Monument to the Royal Stuarts by Canova.
The Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, designed by Michelangelo is one of the biggest in the world, with 42 meters diameter and 138 meters height.
In 1506, Pope Julian II started building the actual basilica, which was meant to be the largest in the world. He named Donato Bramante as chief architect of the new basilica. In 1546, Michelangelo was named chief architect of St. Peter’s Basilica and helped designing the dome. There were some fears that Michelangelo will die before the dome was finished, which actually happened, but the construction was already so advanced that they managed to finish the work without his help.
The church can be visited free of charge. You can also visit the dome, where you have to pay to enter, but it is all worth it. There are 2 options: the elevator or the stairs. The elevator takes the tourists at a certain level, from where you need to go on a spiral staircase to the top of the dome. From that point you have a great perspective over Rome and St. Peter’s Square, the famous square designed by Bernini.