St. Peter’s Basilica is located in Vatican City across from the Tiber River in Rome, Italy. The church is built at the site that is the likely location where St. Peter was buried in 64 AD.
The construction of the basilica was completed around 349 AD and is the largest Catholic Church in the world. The size of this church truly is remarkable with its dimensions measuring 220 meters (720 ft.) long, 150 meters (490 ft.) wide and 132 meters (434 ft.) high with and exterior area of 21,095 sq. meter (227,060 sq. ft.).
In front of the basilica is St. Peter’s Square which is used for masses and ceremonies. The plaza is an elliptical space that is 240 meters wide and is enclosed by 284 Doric columns that are 4 columns wide with the statues of 140 saints on top. St Peter’s Square has held over 300,000 people for events.
The front façade is 45.5 meters (149 ft.) high and is crowned with 5.7 meter tall statues of Christ, John the Baptist and the apostles (except Peter). On each side are huge clocks supported by angles and a church bell below the left clock.
There are five entrances into the lobby area and five doors that lead from the lobby to the nave of the basilica. Each of the doors are named:
1. Door of Death
2. Door of Good and Evil
3. Filarete Door
4. Door of the Sacraments
5. Holy Door
The Holy Door that is shown below is only opened once every 25 years.
Once inside the church, the enormous size of the church is revealed. The nave which is in the center of the church runs the complete length from the lobby to the St. Peter’s Throne in the back. The size of the nave is 211.5 meters (694 ft.) long, 27 meters wide and 45 meters high and the capacity of the church can accommodate 60,000 visitors.
The great dome that identifies the basilica is spectacular from the inside. It is divided into 16 sections with the bust of the 16 popes that are buried in the basilica.
There are 11 chapels in the basilica. Four of these chapels are shown below.
The Transept where daily mass is held
Chapel of our Lady of the Column
Chapel of the Choir
Chapel of the Pieta
There are 25 alters in the basilica. Four of these alters are shown below.
Alter of Immaculate Conception
Alter of the Sacred Heart
Alter of the Lie
There are 26 monuments in the basilica. Five of these monuments are shown below.
Statue of St. Peter
Monument to Pope Alexander VII
Monument to Pius VII
Monument to Pius VIII
Monument to Innocent XII
Aside from the featured areas like the chapels, alters and monuments there are many details that throughout the basilica that make visiting the basilica overwhelming. There are many columns, floor decorations and ceiling details that are very impressive. Some of these are shown below.
In my travels, I have visited some places that stopped me in my tracks with that Wow moments. St. Peter’s Basilica is one of those places.
The basilica is huge and almost every inch is covered in details. It gave me the feeling of visual overload. There was something interesting everywhere that I looked. The entire basilica is loaded with pieces of art and sculptures detailing significant historical moments in Christianity and important figures in the Catholic Church.
Many of the chapels and alters were dedicated of events in the history of the religion. Many of these areas will be recognizable if you have knowledge of the history of the religion.