Friday, September 29, 2006

St Peter's Basilica Rome - The Papal Altar

This image of the Papal Alter in 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 Basilica of Saint Peter

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. The first St. Peter’s was built by Constantine between 320-322 AD. Over the following centuries the site endured several lootings and further embellishments. By the 1500 St. Peter’s had suffered from neglect, was irreparable and dismantled to make room for the current Basilica. Thus on April 18, 1506, the cornerstone to the current version of St. Peter’s Basilica was laid by Pope Julius II. Work continued for over 100 years to produce the current form.

Extensive information about the Basilica can be found on The interior of St. Peter’s Basilica is a museum in it’s own right. There are over 400 statues on display aside from other paintings and artifacts. In addition to this the Basilica is large enough to house over 40 chapels. Entrance is via one of 5 named doors of the portico, each of which has a distinct history. The central door is from the old St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica is laid out in the form of a Latin Cross, the main nave is 40m high and the floor laid in intricate marble patterns.

The central focus is the Papal Altar, where only the pope celebrates Mass. The baldachin rising over the central altar was designed by Bernini. It is made of 37 tonnes of bronze, stands some 30 meters high, built to fill the space beneath the dome soaring about 140m above it. The bronze used was taken from the Pantheon. Underneath this baldachin is the traditional tomb of St. Peter.

Surrounding the 4 corners of this canopy are 4 pillars which support the weight of the dome. Each of these is 71m in circumference. Each contains a huge statue 4 saints whose relics are preserved in chapels set above the statues part way up the columns. These are the saints Helena, Veronica, Andrew and Longinus (who is said to be the soldier who pierced Jesus whilst he hung on the cross). At the tops of the columns a Latin inscription runs around the base of the arches. Above this are 4 mosaics.

As can be seen in this picture, the whole environment dwarfs those attending it. There are more panoramas from Rome on Panoramic Earth. There is an enlargement of this image of St. Peter's on Flickr.

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

1 comment:

robert said...

Running the entire loop of st. peter's is an inscription. It is mostly latin, but there is about 40 feet in greek behind the altar. anyone know the translation, and why the language switch?



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