The beauty of the square and the magnificence of the adjacent Vatican Museums (in which the Sistine Chapel stands out) place it at the top of the most famous buildings in the world.
The grandeur of the seventeenth-century façade by Carlo Maderno makes the idea of the gigantic dimensions of the Basilica of San Pietro, still one of the largest churches in the world.
The primitive St. Peter's Basilica, a building of dimensions comparable to the present, was built around 320 by the emperor Constantine in the place where, according to tradition, the apostle Peter had been buried.
Over the centuries and under several pontificates began that long process that, in about two hundred years and with the help of many artists (Bramante, Michelangelo, Bernini), would have led to the complete reconstruction of the primitive basilica. The dome designed by Michelangelo is surprising in size and harmony, characteristics that are appreciated in the challenging climb that allows you to admire closely both the interior and the exterior. Among the many masterpieces, absolutely not to be missed is Michelangelo's Pietà, the work that has amazed for centuries for its technique and emotion. A splendid colonnade of 284 Doric columns and eighty-eight pillars in Tivoli travertine surrounds the Basilica of San Pietro, as if to welcome the faithful in a symbolic embrace.
The splendid architecture of the colonnade was commissioned by Pope Alexander VII Chigi to Bernini, who radially arranged the four rows of 284 columns, gradually increasing the diameter, thus maintaining the proportional relations between the spaces and the columns unchanged even in the rows exterior. Thanks to this trick, the viewer reaching the porphyry discs on the sides of the obelisk sees the colonnade as composed of a single row of columns.
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