St. Peter’s Basilica, otherwise known as the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, is a Renaissance church in the city of Rome. The construction of the ancient basilica started in the early 16th century and it was completed and opened in the early 17th century. This 16th century Basilica was constructed to replace an old Basilica that was constructed early in the fourth century AD. The old St. Peter’s Basilica had existed since the time of Constantine the Great Roman Emperor. The architectural masterpiece of St. Peter’s basilica was attributed to famous architects such as Michelangelo, Donato Bramante, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and some other architects.
The popular basilica was built in baroque and Renaissance architectural styles, and it has a height of 435 feet. The St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest basilica in the world and it is the most renowned Renaissance architectural work in the entire world as well. Until recently, the Basilica was the largest church that was ever built. The basilica is neither the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, nor the Catholic Church’s mother church, but it is referred to as one of the holiest shrines of the Catholics.
The Basilica is the burial site of St. Paul who was one of Jesus’ disciples. The basilica is also the burial site of the first pope. The tomb of St. Peter is at the foot of the Basilica’s high alter. A lot of popes were also interred at the Basilica in the early Christian periods.
Among the various areas you can see within the Basilica, are the Dome, the Vatican Grottoes, which is a vast underground crypt or graveyard below the Basilica and the St Peter’s Treasury which contains papal mitres, statues, church ornaments and other various objects. You can also climb the dome by taking a lift halfway or climbing the steps all the way to the top.
St. Peter’s Basilica is not only famous as a tourist attraction, but also as a pilgrimage place. It offers famous liturgies presided by the pope all through the year. If you want to have a deeper knowledge of the major exhibitions of the St. Peter’s Basilica, it is advisable to take a guided tour, use an audio guide, or read a very good guide book, because there are just a few explanations on the exhibits. Using a tourist guide offers you the opportunity to see beyond what other visitors are seeing and it gives you a broader knowledge of the entire ancient Basilica and its facilities.
If you are visiting the Basilica for the very first time, it is very easy to spot. The famous and magnificent St Peter’s dome, which was crafted by Michelangelo, is very visible from a far distance. When you visit the Basilica, it is important to dress properly. The church has a dress code that is strictly enforced. No miniskirts, bare shoulders and shorts. Any visitor that does not adhere to the dress code gets turned away after queuing for a long period of time.