Panorama showing a view down the nave of St Peter's Basilica in Rome. The images were taken balancing the camera on a wooden barrier with long exposures. One of the first times I tried this technique, and the resulting picture gives an impression of the vast size of the church.
St Peter's Basilica - Nave - Rome visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'St Peter's Basilica - Nave' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Roma.
St Peter's Basilica is a vast building, the most popular tourist attraction for those visiting Rome. It is the largest basilica church in the world, the interior being 211.5m long and the nave 27.5m wide. This vast size dwarfs visitors passing through the massive porticoes. The whole of St Peter's basilica covers over five acres, and the internal size covers 3.75 acres.
The first St Peter's was built by Constantine in the 4th century, supposedly on the site where Peter was buried after his crucifixion between AD 64-67. By the 15th century this church had deteriorated beyond repair and needed replacing. Thus began a building programme lasting almost 100 years, going through several redesigns and architects. St Peter's still retains elements of Bramante's plan, but was greatly modified by Michelangelo.
The nave was extended by Maderno, who also designed the façade and Confessio. Adding a further 3 bays to the church, it has a number of distinct features. The dimensions differ slightly to the Michelangelo's nave, though it retains the use of huge paired pilasters. The axis is also slightly different to the western end of the basilica, a deliberate move allowing the façade to line up with the obelisk in St Peter's Square.
Features of St Peter's Basilica Nave The nave of St Peter's has several important monuments and features that are of note when visiting:
- Along the floor of the nave are markers showing the comparative lengths of other churches, starting from the entrance.
- Pairs of 2m high cherubs hold Holy Water basins held on the first piers. These were commissioned by Pope Benedict XIII in the 1720's, designed and sculpted by Agostino Cornacchini and Francesco Moderati
- Medallion Reliefs of the first 38 popes adorn the pilasters of the nave piers.
- 39 statues of the 'founder saints' of various religious orders stand in niches between the pilasters.
- Statue of St Peter Enthroned set against the northeast pier of the Dome. One foot is mostly worn away by hundreds of years of pilgrims kissing it. The statue is thought by some to date from the 5th century, though others attribute it to Arnolfo di Cambio of the 13th century.
- Stairs to the Confessio and Vatican Crottoes allowing popes to get closer to the supposed grave of Peter.
- The Papal High altar and Bernini's baldachin dominate the far end of the nave.
- Each of the four piers supporting the Dome have niches containing statues associated with various relics: St. Helena holding the True Cross, by Andrea Bolgi; St. Longinus holding the spear that pierced the side of Jesus, by Bernini (1639); St. Andrew with the St. Andrew's Cross, by Francois Duquesnoy and St. Veronica holding her veil with the image of Jesus' face, by Francesco Mochi.
Dimensions of St Peter's Basilica Some dimensions of St Peter's Basilica:
- Total Width - 150m (500 feet)
- Interior Length - including the vestibule, St Peters is 211.5m (693.8 feet) long.
- Transept Length, Interior - 137m (451 feet)
- Nave Width - 27.5m (90.2 feet)
- Tribune Width 24.0m (78.7 feet)
- Internal Width at Transepts- 137m (451 feet)
- Nave Internal Height46.2m (151.5 feet).
- Total Area of Basilica - 21,095m² (227,070 square feet, >5 acres).
- Internal Area of St Peter's - 15,160.12m² (163,182.2 square feet, 3.75 acres)
St Peter's Basilica
Piazza San Pietro,
Metro: S.Pietro, Ottaviano (A)