Sunday, January 14, 2007

Italia Rome - II

Moving on from where we left. After Vatican Museums n Sistine Chapel it was time to visit Basilica di San Pietro (St Peter’s Basilica). The first thing you’ll notice about it is that it’s HUGE. The basilica is built in high renaissance and baroque style & covers an area of 5.7 acres and has a capacity of over 60,000 people. St. Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, was allegedly buried here in A.D. 64 near the site of his execution, and in 324 Constantine commissioned a basilica to be built over Peter's tomb. The current Basilica’s construction began on April 18, 1506 and was completed in 1626. because of such a lengthy contruction the chief architect position was held by many artists. The first was Donato Bramante. When he died great painters n artists like Raphael and Michelangelo took over and finally Carlo Maderno finished the work.

On the front façade of the basilica you can see the words inscribed -
IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT VII (In honor of the prince of apostles; Paul V Borghese, pope, in the year 1612 and the seventh year of his pontificate).

For a long time it was the world's biggest church, but in 2000 it was dethroned by Basilica of Our Lady of Peace situated in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Côte d'Ivoire. This was built as a clone of St Peter's Basilica and has aroused much international controversy, for the lavish building glittering with Italian marble sits in the middle of an impoverished African city where only a minority of homes have running water and adequate sanitation, and the cost of the basilica doubled the national debt.

St. Peter's has a strict dress code: no shorts, no skirts above the knee, and no bare shoulders. You will not be let in if you don't come dressed appropriately. And ladies if you find the Swiss guards cute then don’t bother coz they have to be single, devout Christians to qualify for the job.

As you enter the basilica the grandeur and beauty of the interiors hits you in the face. There are more statues, monuments and memorials than I can remember. Immediately on the right aisle is one of the Vatican's greatest treasures: Michelangelo's Pietà, depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Christ. This is considered by some to be one of Michelangelo's greatest works of art, completed when he was 24 years old in 1499 AD. It is the only work signed by Michelangelo (on a diagonal ribbon carved across Mary's breast - MICHAELA[N]GELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTIN[US] FACIEBAT - Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made this). Its noteworthy that, Michelangelo makes Mary and Christ appear to be about the same age. Mary has youthful features, although she would've been middle-aged at the time of the Crucifixion. Michelangelo portrayed her as a young woman to convey her purity and chaste character. An act of vandalism on May 21, 1972, after which the Pietà, is secured behind reinforced bulletproof glass.

Over the main altar stands a 30 metres (98 ft) tall baldachin held by four immense pillars, all designed by Bernini between 1624 and 1632. The legendary location of the burial place of St. Peter after his crucifixion is reportedly under the massive baldachin.

The Basilica’s Dome is also a dominant feature of the Roman skyline. The paraboloid dome is a double layered structure with a spiral stair case between the outside and inside layers of the dome is 42.3 metres in interior diameter, rising to 120 metres (394 ft) above the floor.

For a fees of €7 you can take an elevator and then climb to the top of the dome. Def worth a visit believe me. I especially enjoyed the part where u walk between the narrow space between the outer and inner shell of the dome. The space is very less, hardly 2 feet at some of the narrowest points and almost claustrophobic.

From the dome you get a magnificient view of the Piazza di San Pietro (St Peters Square). The open space before the basilica was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, from 1656 to 1667, under the direction of Pope Alexander VII, as an appropriate forecourt, designed so that the greatest number of people could see the Pope give his blessing. At the center of the oval stands an Egyptian obelisk of red granite, forty meters tall to the cross on its top and the surrounding Colonnade which has 284 columns made in classic Baroque style.


Sakshi said...


First of all great pictures, once again. I really liked the stiry that goes along with it .. makes you feel as if you are there.

"they have to be single, devout Christians to qualify for the job."
Why is it the good ones are always taken?

Chitrangada said...

Me Second :)

amazing pics as always n yesh u were rite i cud actually visualise my self in Italy :)

and the best part is ur post always contain useful information apart from travel description ..

love this one :)

Kanu said...

hmmm....what to say...I have to have to have to visit Italy now...

Lovely post...lovely read. And nice pics

delphic said...

You make me jealous man!

arpana said...

owsom ! and as Delphic says , u make me jealous

Lalit Singh said...

Those guys were never available yaar!!! so stop sulking :P

Congrats n Thx. glad u liked it

U should def. Its a very beautiful place

tera bhi time aayegaa dost!!

Owsum .. lols
Et tu Arpz!!!

Marlee said...

Nice! :-) here for the first time but wont be for the last time.

Lalit Singh said...

hi marlee
welcome to the blog!!