Piazza San Pietro is the most important square of Christianity . Much of its architectural charm is due to the intervention of Bernini who created the great ellipse 240 meters wide, surrounded by the splendid Colonnade with 284 columns arranged in 4 files consisting of 88 pillars. In the background, beyond a grandiose trapezoidal courtyard, the facade of the basilica is dominated by Michelangelo’s dome. The trabeation is crowned by 140 statues of Saints and big emblems of Alexander VII. At the bottom of the right portico is the bronze door of the Vatican Palace. In the middle of the square stands the Vatican Obelisk, coming from Alexandria in Egypt, it is2 5.5 meters tall.
The Basilica of Saint Peter, the heart of the Catholic World, built on the tomb of the Apostle, was founded by Constantine around 320. Over the centuries and under several pontificates began that long process that within approximately two hundred years and with the assistance of many artists (Bramante, Michelangelo, Bernini) would lead to the complete overhaul of the Constantinian primitive basilica. The facade,preceded by a stairway , is divided by eight columns and pillars supporting the trabeation crowned by a balustrade. The central balcony over the porch is the loggia of the blessings, from where the Pope blesses the faithful in solemn occasions and from where the election of the new Pontiff is usually announced. Five bronze doors serve as entrance to the basilica: the latest on the right is the Holy door, which opens only in Jubilee years. . Under the dome is the Papal altar , covered by a 29 meters high canopy that Bernini realized with the bronze materials removed from the Pantheon; In the Confession, ninetynine perennial lamps illuminate the ‘Tomb of Peter’. In the first chapel of the right aisle is the Pietà , Michelangelo’s early work whose technique and emotion really impress.
From the portico of the basilica a lift brings you up to the terrace from which you can visit the dome: two flights lead to the circular corridor and to the top of the lantern, where a spiral staircase reaches the outer gallery , from where you can admire the panorama. Not to be missed the Vatican Grottos, tha cave, which host the papal tomb.