Friday, September 29, 2006

St. Peters Basilica - Rome. The Facade

This image of the front of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome ispart of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of Rome. There are over 100 images taken from around Rome linked to an interactive map.

Full 360° panorama of the view from the front of St. Peter's Bascilica.

The Basilica of Saint Peter is officially known in Italian as the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano and colloquially called Saint Peter's Basilica. It is the focal point of the Vatican. St Peter’s Basilica has been through many changes over the centuries. Just over 500 years ago, on April 18, 1506, the cornerstone to the current version of St. Peter’s Basilica was laid by Pope Julius II. At the beginning of the first Century AD the area was the gardens of Agrippina. Caius Caligula built a circus here and the obelisk in the centre of St. Peter’s Square was erected near to it’s current position at this time.

Work on the current façade of St.Peter’s began on February 10, 1608, taking until 1612 to complete. The ornamentation took another 2 years to install. The 1m high inscription that runs above the main columns states: "Paul V Borghese, Roman, Pontiff, in the year 1612, the seventh of his pontificate, [erected] in honour of the Prince of Apostles". The central balcony, the Loggia of the Blessings, is the site from which a new pope is announced, and from where the pope gives the Urbi et Orbi blessing. The façade of St. Peter’s is 118m wide and 48m tall.

The front of St. Peter’s is hugely impressive, people seem dwarfed by the façade. Along the top are 13 massive travertine statues of Christ, other gospel characters. These are, from left to right – Thaddeus, Matthew (gospel writer), Philip, Thomas, James, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ (central figure with a cross), Andrew, John the Evangelist (gospel writer), James the younger, Bartholomew, Simon and Matthias. Peter is represented in a relief under the Loggia of the Blessings with Christ.

Currently visitors to St. Peter’s Basilica ascend a series of steps from the far right of the façade having passed through security and walking past a huge 5.5m tall statue of St. Paul placed upon a pedestal almost 5m high. Entrance to the Basilica itself is through the main doors in the centre of the façade. Those wishing to visit the tombs of the popes or ascend to the Capula of Ct. Peter’s must pass to the right of the façade. Those leaving the tour of the tombs pass out along the left of the façade where the Swiss Guards are stationed at the Arch of Bells Entrance. Above this arch are the bells of St. Peter’s, the larges of which is 2.5m in diameter.

There is an enlargement of this picture of the facade of St. Peter's Basilica on Flickr. Panoramic Earth also has panoramas from St. Peter's Square and inside St. Peter's Basilica with more information.

A very good map of the area with further information is found on Square and Area pages.

For more articles on Rome see the Rome Index or select one of the labels at the bottom.

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