St. Peter`s Basilica in Rome was built on the site where in ancient Rome there was a circus for gladiatorial games. Here in 67, the Apostle Peter, who was closest to Jesus Christ during his lifetime, was executed. Jesus gave him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and according to Catholic tradition, the Pope is the vicar of St. Peter on earth. 

The first basilica was erected by the emperor Constantine in the place where the apostle Peter was crucified and buried back in 327 A.D. By 15 century the basilica became very decrepit and in 1506 the Pope Julius II ordered to erect the largest Christian cathedral, which had to emphasize the importance of Rome as the center of Christian world. 

St. Peter`s was built by several great Renaissance architects: first Bramante, then Raphael, then Michelangelo. The dome was built by the architects Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana. In 1626, St. Peter`s Basilica was consecrated by Pope Urban VIII, and it became the largest Christian church on earth. Before that, for 1089 years, the largest cathedral was Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. 

The dome of the cathedral rises to 119 meters. Its diameter is 42 meters. By capacity, it is the largest cathedral on earth – it can accommodate up to 60 thousand people. Absolutely everyone notes that the decoration of the cathedral is magnificent, which is not typical for Catholic churches. In addition to the tomb of St. Peter, the church contains the relics of St. John Chrysostom, as well as many relics, including the spearhead that pierced Jesus on the cross (it came here from Constantinople). 

Michelangelo was commissioned with the task to paint the cathedral. You can see the following inscription in two meters letters around the inside of the dome: «You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven». 

The main altar of the cathedral is below the dome, above the grave of the apostle Peter. St. Peter`s baldachin or canopy designed by Bernini is over the altar. Its height is 29 meters. 

To the right from the entrance you can see the «Pieta» or «The Lamentation of Christ». It was one of the earliest works of Michelangelo. He created it in the age of 24. Besides, you can see there a great number of other sculptures, pictures and frescoes. 

If you have the strength, then you must definitely climb the dome of the cathedral. Of course, this is not easy, but the magnificent view of old Rome, opening from the dome of the cathedral, is impressive. At your feet are St. Peter`s Square, the Vatican palaces, the Angel Castle, the Tiber River and many other sights of Rome. After visiting the dome, you should definitely go to the Vatican Museum. This is the largest museum in the world, and Michelangelo`s Sistine Chapel is simply amazing.  

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Facade of the St. Peter Cathedral in Rome
The height of the dome of St. Peter Cathedral is 139 meters - it is the highest dome in the world
A view of the Cathedral of St. Peter from the Angel Castle
Views to St. Peter`s Basilica from the river Tiber
Kivory above the main altar of the Cathedral, where was found the tomb of St. Peter
Descend to the ancient Roman necropolis to the tomb of Apostle Peter in St. Peter`s Basilica in Rome
Tomb of St. Peter in the underground crypt of St. Peter Basilica in Rome
Pieta sculpture or the Mourning of Christ - one of Michelangelo`s earliest works, which he made at the age of 24
The main dome of St. Peter Basilica. Its diameter is 41.5 m - slightly less than the largest dome of the Pantheon
Space under the main dome of St. Peter`s Basilica in Rome
The gravestone of Pope Gregory XIII in St. Peter Cathedral in Rome
Equestrian sculpture of Charles the Great in St. Peter Basilica in Rome
The chair of St. Peter in apse of St. Peter Cathedral in Rome
Sculpture of St. Andrew (author Francois Duquenoy) in the St. Peter Cathedral
The entrance portals of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome
The gravestone of Pope Benedict XV in St. Peter`s Cathedral in Rome
Underground crypt in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome
Mosaic panel the Death of St. Sebastian (1614) in St. Peter`s Basilica in Rome
The walls of the main nave of St. Peter`s Basilica near the grave of St. Peter
The tomb of the Stuarts in St. Peter Cathedral in Rome
The baptistery of red Egyptian porphyry in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome