When you think about Italy, countless examples of the finest Renaissance art come to mind. The incredibly sophisticated work of the old masters, unparalleled to this day, has survived in the form of thousands of enchantingly beautiful paintings and statues. The architecture that this historical period has left behind should not be forgotten, either –incredibly intricate designs and monumental buildings leave you amazed by the wonders people’s persistence and skill has created. One of the most beautiful examples of all things previously mentioned is St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The very sight of this place of worship leaves tourists and believers breathless. This monumental building is something that is worth visiting, not only for its value in religion but also for its art and architecture. Let us get into more detail about why this basilica is such an important sight to see when visiting Italy.
About the building
As mentioned, this is a Renaissance building –its construction was started in 1506, on the location of the old basilica; it was finished in 1626, and worked on by various architects, and numerous sculptors and painters, most notably Michelangelo, whose work can be found inside the basilica. The basilica is said to be located on the spot where Saint Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, was buried. Thus, we can see that this is a very important building for the Catholic Church; the Pope conducts service here during most of the year.
How it was built
This monumental basilica replaced the old one, today known as Old St. Peter’s Basilica, a 4th-century church built by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. The original plans included rebuilding and reconstructing the old basilica, but due to its state, it was later decided that it should be completely torn down and replaced by a new one. During its long period of construction, various plans have been enforced in order to create the church as it is today. Most notable contributors to the architecture of the church were Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo, each of whom had their own visions of how the church should look. Owing to their efforts, this church still attracts thousands of visitors each day.
What is stored inside?
If you do not visit St. Peter’s basilica only for the aesthetic appeal, i.e. if there is an element of pilgrimage in your visit, you will certainly look for more than just architecture or paintings in this church. You should definitely do so, as this church stores some of the most famous relics in Christianity, the most famous ones being Longinus’ spear, the Veil of Veronica, and a fragment of the True Cross upon which Jesus was crucified. Although the Vatican makes no official statement regarding the authenticity of these relics, they are stored and displayed each year, at precise times. Each of these objects is greatly valued by Christians around the world, and it should come as no surprise that they are kept in a monumental and significant church such as this.
To summarize, St. Peter’s Basilica is a place worth visiting. Whether you are a believer, or just interested in the intricate artwork, one thing is certain –you will never forget the experience.