I thought this would be the perfect week to share some photos of St. Peter’s Basilica—the world’s largest church, located in the world’s smallest sovereign state, Vatican City. At a mere 110 acres (0.44 sq km), the Vatican is also the only UNESCO World Heritage Site to encompass an entire country.
Dominating the skyline of Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano)was built in the sixteenth century through the early seventeenth century on the site of an earlier church that marked the site of St. Peter’s grave. Designed by numerous Renaissance Masters including Bramante, Raphael, Maderno and Michelangelo, the basilica is seen as the center of the Catholic Church. It’s vast interior is opulent beyond words—everywhere you look is marble and gilded ornamentation. Beneath the basilica is a crypt containing the tombs of numerous past popes, including the popular Pope John Paul II.
Designed by Bernini, St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) lies before the grand cathedral and can fit upwards of 300,000 people for services. Bernini designed the dual colonnades to reach out and symbolically embrace the worshippers within.
Vatican City was established under the terms of the 1929 Lateran Treaty, and as an independent state, it has its own postal service, currency, and army—the flamboyantly costumed Swiss Guards.
Below are some additional photos from Vatican City:
Have you been to the Vatican before? What were your impressions? Feel free to comment in the section below!