St. Peter's Basilica - View from Portico Entrance - FURTHER INFORMATION
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Panorama showing the view from the entrance to Saint Peter's Bascilicaover Piazza San Pietro in Rome. The Basilica of Saint Peter (officially called Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano) is colloquially called Saint Peter's Basilica. The focal point of the Vatican, and of the Roman Catholic Church, it is one of the most visited sights in the world, and the prime tourist attraction in Rome.
St Peter's Basilica has been through many changes over the centuries. Just over 500 years ago, on April 18, 1506, the cornerstone to the current version of St. Peter's Basilica was laid by Pope Julius II. At the beginning of the first Century AD the area was the gardens of Agrippina. Caius Caligula built a circus here and the obelisk in the centre of St. Peter's Square was erected near to it's current position at this time. It is said that St. Peter's Square can hold 300,000 people, it has the same dimensions as the Colosseum of Rome.
Work on the current façade of St.Peter's began on February 10, 1608, taking until 1612 to complete. The ornamentation took another 2 years to install. The 1m high inscription that runs above the main columns states: "Paul V Borghese, Roman, Pontiff, in the year 1612, the seventh of his pontificate, [erected] in honour of the Prince of Apostles". The central balcony, the Loggia of the Blessings, is the site from which a new pope is announced, and from where the pope gives the Urbi et Orbi blessing. The façade of St. Peter's is 118m wide and 48m tall.
The front of St. Peter's is hugely impressive, people seem dwarfed by the façade. Along the top are 13 massive travertine statues of Christ, other gospel characters. These are, from left to right - Thaddeus, Matthew (gospel writer), Philip, Thomas, James, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ (central figure with a cross), Andrew, John the Evangelist (gospel writer), James the younger, Bartholomew, Simon and Matthias. Peter is represented in a relief under the Loggia of the Blessings with Christ. Only part of the facade is visible in this image, there is another panoramic from Piazza San Pietro which shows the whole of the facade of St. Peter's Bascilica.
Currently visitors to St. Peter's Basilica ascend a series of steps from the far right of the façade having passed through security and walking past a huge 5.5m tall statue of St. Paul placed upon a 5m pedestal. Entrance to the Basilica itself is through the main doors in the centre of the facade, visible here. Those wishing to visit the tombs of the popes or ascend to the Capula of Ct. Peter's must pass to the right of the facade. Those leaving the tour of the tombs pass out along the left of the façade where the Swiss Guards are stationed at the Arch of Bells Entrance. Above this arch are the bells of St. Peter's, the larges of which is 2.5m in diameter.
The amount written about St. Peter's Basilica is as vast as the church itself, and those wanting more in depth information about the church, the different chapels, statues and other relics should go to the St. Peter's Basilica Website.
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