St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
Incredible Must See Sacred Places
Image courtesy of Deposit Photos
Unlike its famous Parisian counterpart, Notre Dame Cathedral, St. Peter’s Basilica in the sovereign state of Vatican City, within the confines of Rome, Italy, is a functioning place of worship. In fact, it is the largest church in the world. Notre Dame is owned by the Republic of France; St. Peter’s is owned by the Catholic Church. Both are open to the public, St. Peter’s depending upon papal use of the space.
Formally known as The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, it derives its name from one of Jesus’ apostles who is said to be buried beneath the building under the high altar. The adjacent Pizza san Pietro (St. Peter’s Square) takes its name from the same person, and has hosted more than 80,000 people when the sitting pontiff has made a speech from the church.
Since admission is free (be sure to pre-book tickets or expect to wait in line for hours), this is an extremely popular attraction within Rome for people of all (or no) faiths. The Renaissance style structure (the church was built from 1506 to 1626) was designed by masters Donato Bramante, Carlo Maderno (whose fountain is situated in St. Peter’s Square) and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (whose colonnade graces the facade of the building), with painting by none other than Michelangelo.
Inside, the church is resplendent with great works of art including Michelangelo’s sculpture, Pietà, along with gilding, paintings and reliefs. Given that it is not a formal art gallery, it contains one of the world’s greatest art collections.
St. Peter isn’t the only one buried at his namesake basilica; many popes are also interred here, as are several famous patrons. St. Peter’s Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At certain times of the day, you can hear the basilica’s bells chiming; one dates back to 1288. Older or newer, every aspect of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, is a treasure for visitors.