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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
Basilica (including grottoes): free. Dome: stairs €4; elevator €5 Treasury: €4
06-69881662 (for information on worship services)

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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