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St. Peter's Basilica
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Quick Facts on St. Peter's Basilica

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Basilica di San Pietro Michelangelo's Dome Shrine of St. Peter St. Peter's Basilica St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
Piazza San Pietro
Main date(s)
41.902181° N, 12.453346° E
Opening hours
Basilica, sacristy, treasury: Oct-Mar daily 9am-6pm; Apr-Sept daily 9am-7pm.
Grottoes: daily 8am-5pm
Dome: Oct-Mar daily 8am-5pm; Apr-Sept 8am-6pm
Basilica (including grottoes): free. Dome: stairs €4; elevator €5 Treasury: €4
06-69881662 (for information on worship services)

Historical Timeline of St. Peter's Basilica

Martyrdom of the Apostle Peter in Rome. According to early Christian tradition, he is crucified upside down in the Circus of Nero on Vatican Hill and buried in the burial ground nearby. Today the site is occupied by St. Peter's Basilica.
25 December 800
Charlemagne is crowned "Emperor of the Romans" by Pope Leo III in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome.
Construction on the new St. Peter's Basilica in Rome begins under Pope Julius II, funded in large part by the sale of indulgences. Donato Bramante is the first chief architect.
The dome of St. Peter's Basilica, begun by Michelangelo, is completed by architect Giacomo della Porta with the assistance of engineer Domenico Fontana.

Description of St. Peter's Basilica

To say that St. Peter's Basilica is impressive would be an obvious understatement, given that it was until recently the largest church in the world (the new Basilica of Yamoussoukro seems to have surpassed it). It covers an area of 23,000 sq m (5.7 acres) and has a capacity of over 60,000 people. And every bit of that space is used to display the finest Renaissance monuments and decoration money could buy, employing the talents of such greats as Michelangelo and Bernini.

But St. Peter's impressive historical and religious roots stretch back long before the Renaissance: it stands on the traditional site of St. Peter's grave, which has been revered since at least the 3rd century. The first major church on the site was built by Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, in 324. Some vestiges of this ancient building, known as "Old St. Peter's," can be seen in the crypt and necropolis.

Holly Hayes
October 27, 2011

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