Did you know that St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church on the planet? This mighty Renaissance building remains one of the most fascinating landmarks in Europe, found deep in the heart of the tiny Vatican City. Here are some more fun facts about St. Peter’s Basilica you’ll want to take note of.
1. Where is the Basilica?
St. Peter’s Basilica can be found in Vatican City, a small state inside of Italy. It’s technically part of Rome, too, and is one of four major churches you’ll find in the city to make up the heart of the Catholic Church.
2. St. Peter rests below the Basilica.
St. Peter lends more than just his name to this impressive holy building. Peter, who was killed by order of Emperor Nero in 64 AD, is buried in a tomb upon which the Basilica rests. Peter’s execution was said to have been Nero’s attempt to scapegoat Christians for the blame of Rome’s great fire.
3. What’s it known as locally?
Although we in English commonly refer to the building as St. Peter’s Basilica, it is important to know how to pronounce it in its actual language, especially if you ever get the chance to visit! St. Peter’s Basilica is actually known as the Basilica Papale di San Pietro among local people.
4. How big is the Basilica?
St. Peter’s Basilica is an impressive building both in architecture and in size – partly due to the fact that it covers an area of 23,000 square meters (or 247,569 square feet)! The building also measures 218 meters (715 feet) in length and 136 meters (446 feet) in height!
5. It was a monster project!
As you can imagine, St. Peter’s Basilica took quite a long time to build! Construction of the building began with Pope Julius II back in 1506. However, construction was only finished over a century later with Pope Paul V, in 1615!
6. It’s a highly important symbol in modern Catholicism.
Due to the fact it is the biggest church on the planet and the most important of the major Basilicas in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica is considered to be the most important church in the world! In fact, it is also known as the most important building in Christendom!
7. It had multiple builders on board!
As you can imagine, having taken so long to be built, St. Peter’s Basilica had multiple architects! Bramante was the original architect, although he was replaced by Raphael. Raphael was then replaced by Michelangelo, who was followed by Carlo and Stefano Moderno, and finally Gian Lorenzo.
8. Now that’s a dome!
One of St. Peter’s Basilica’s most famous features is its dome! It is so big that you could fit the Statue of Liberty in the dome alone – and you can climb it and experience some of the best views of the city! The best way to see the dome is to get tickets for a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica.
9. The paintings here hide secrets.
The Basilica is also famous for its amazing paintings – but are they paintings, really? Take a closer look, and you’ll find they are actually mosaics! Some are made from glass, and others are ceramic. It’s a key reason why so many people use flash photography inside the Basilica – they won’t miss anything!
10. There’s a body on display (no, really).
Finally, if you think you see a body while walking around the Basilica, you’ve probably noticed Pope Innocent XI. Several Popes are buried beneath the building, and Innocent XI’s body is actually easy to view in his own tomb, below Raphael’s “Transfiguration” mosaic. Don’t worry – his body is completely covered, so you won’t get a fright.
FAQs about St. Peter’s Basilica
Can you just walk into St Peter’s Basilica?
Although anyone can access St. Peter’s Basilica, the building is not always open. It is usually open from 7am to 7pm, but do always check the times before visiting!
Is entry to St. Peter’s Basilica free?
Yes, it is free to visit St. Peter’s Basilica! However, given that it is such a famous and popular tourist spot, it can take up to two hours to actually get into the building!
Is it worth visiting St. Peter’s Basilica?
Yes, it is definitely worth visiting St. Peter’s Basilica. Whether you are of the Christian faith or not, the building took over a century to complete and boasts some of the most spectacular architecture in the world!