St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica  .  Rome, Italy
         Size:  14" x 24" x7"  .  SOLD

The artist worked on this model of Saint Peter's for 5 months.


Today's St. Peter's is known as the "New" basilica.  The "Old" St. Peter's was built on the same site around 326 AD.  It was razed to make way for this "New" basilica.  The present church was begun in 1506 under Pope Julius II and consecrated in 1626 under Pope Urban VIII.  Pope Julius hired four of the leading Renaissance artists and architects to work on his ambitious project.  From the beginning the construction was plagued by numerous obstacles and problems.  Bramante, Raphael, Sangallo, Michelangelo and Maderno succeeded one another to construct this majestic basilica.  Ultimately a total of 13 architects were involved.  The magnificent dome is the work of Michelangelo and the massive drum for this dome was completed before his death.

St. Peter's is designed as a three-aisle Latin cross with a dome at the crossing, directly above the high altar, which covers the tomb of the Martyred Apostle Peter.  The top of the Cupola is 435 feet above St. Peter's Square.  (In comparison, London's St. Paul's is 365 feet tall, and the dome of the U.S. Capitol, a design based on St. Peter's, is 287 feet tall.) The Basilica's exterior covers about 163,000 square feet.  The main structure is 615 feet long and 453 feet wide.  A collection of statues representing Jesus, St. John and Christ's disciples crown the Basilica's facade. 

The splendid square and colonnade were designed by Bernini, and are considered his finest work.  His design of the colonnade represents two arms poised to embrace the faithful.  The piazza is 1,115 feet long and 785 feet wide.  The "roofs" of the colonnade are supported by 284 columns and 88 pillars which are 60 feet tall.  The balustrade features 140 statues of saints.  The colonnade forms a superb entryway to the greatest church of Christendom.

The Egyptian obelisk, once housed in Caligula and Nero's amphitheatre, now forms the piazza's centerpiece.  Magnificent fountains  flank the piazza, along with the enormous statues of St. Peter and St. Paul which frame the stairs leading to the church.  They all contribute to the celebrated appearance of St. Peter's.

Until 1989 St. Peter's was the largest church in Christendom.  In that year its size was exceeded by that of the new basilica in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire.