St. Peter's, Rome, Italy

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Outside Views

One of the more surprising facts is the Vatican is a fort. Back in the day when the Pope ruled significant territory, it made sense.
The obelisk is called Caligula's Obelisk. Since it's not inscribed little can be said about it. The buildings beyond are the Papal Apartments.
Below: The Colonnades.
Swiss guards.
The Apostolic Palace.
The Papal Apartments right of the obelisk. To the left, the Apostolic Palace.
Statue of Constantine, by Bernini (1670).
Inside the Colonnade.
Night view of fountain in St. Peter's square.
St. Peters has a back yard? Well, yes. Descending from the cupola can take you out the back door.

Interior Views

Below: Entrance to the tomb of St. Peter.
Below: the dome. You could stand the Space Shuttle or the Statue of Liberty here and not touch the top.
"What the barbarians could not do, the Barberini have done." Greatest pun ever. Works in English, Italian and Latin. The great canopy or baldachino was made from bronze from the bronze girders in the Pantheon (and other sources).
Left and below: The Portico.
The celebrated Pieta was attacked in 1972 by Laszlo Toth, a Hungarian geologist living in Australia. Toth was so obviously mentally ill that he was hospitalized for two years, then deported, but never prosecuted. He died in 2012.

I mean, sheesh, marble isn't all that rare. You can go to the original quarry and get some if you want a specimen.

Below: Crypt of Pope John Paul I Below: Crypt of Pope John XXIII.
My church is bigger than your church. On the floor are markers showing the sizes of some other great cathedrals. Below is St. Patrick's in New York. At top, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

At bottom: Westminster Abbey.

The Treasury

The Dome

The elevator to the dome can be surprisingly hard to find, even if you've done it before. When I was here once, the door opened and a petite Japanese lady walked in. Then there was an audible gasp when she looked down.
The stairs up to the top of the cupola have seen many famous visitors. This one is poignant: Empress Carlotta of Mexico, widow of the doomed Emperor Maximilian.
Emperor Hirohito of Japan and King Alfonso of Spain
The King of Siam (Top) and Grand Dukes Sergius and Paul of Russia (1881).
The Shah of Iran (1948).
Prince Akihito of Japan.
Looking down one of the vertical ribs of the dome.
Below: St. Peter's "square."
Vatican Radio station.
Palace of the Governorate.
Pinacotheca, part of the Vatican Museums.
The foreground building with the peaked roof is the Sistine Chapel, helpfully marked "Catholic Church" on Google Maps.
The Twelve Apostles and John the Baptist look down on St. Peter's Square.

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Created 10 November 2018, Last Update 04 June 2020