One of the largest places of worship in the world, the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican is a Renaissance church in Vatican City, a sovereign papal enclave situated within the boundaries of the Italian capital, Rome. One of the holiest sites in Catholisism, is is said to be the burial site of St. Peter, one of Christ’s Apostles and also the first in a millenia long line of Popes. St. Peter’s tomb is directly below the high altar of the Basilica.
The church is huge and widely regarded as the ultimate expression of Renaissance architecture. Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini were primarily responsible for the design. The largest church in the world, it has a 211.5 m long nave with a dome 42 m in diameter and soaring 132.5 m high. Maderno’s front facade, clad in travertine, was modified from Michaelangelo’s original concept, although not heavily. Almost 115 m wide and 45.5 m high, the facade is topped with 5.7 m tall statues of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and all the apostles except St. Peter.
There has been a church on the site since the time of the reforming Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, but the present building began construction on 18 April 1506 and was completed over 120 years later on 18 November 1626. The basilica has a surface area of 15,160 square m and can accommodate 60,000 people. The interior is richly decorated, and adorned with statues and monuments, many by Italian master Gian Lorenzo Bernini, considered one of the greatest artists in history.