St. Peter’s Basilica Rome | Vatican City Facade of the Basilica of St Peter | Official Private guided tours Vatican Museum. Tours in Rome
Facade of St. Peter’s Basilica. The facade is solemn and imposing, and it was designed by Carlo Maderno in 1612 during the reign of Pope Paul V as is stated in the inscription of the frieze. The attic is surmounted by a balustrade, bearing colossal statues of the Redeemer St. John the Baptist and even apostles. Above the central entrance is the balcony where the Pope appears, after his election, to bless Rome and the catholic world.
Lower down is a bas-relief in marble, by Bernini representing Christ entrusting his church to Peter.
The vestibule, 468 feet long (Mt 143), 66 feet high (Mt 20), and 50 feet wide (Mt 15) was designed by Maderno and is considered his best work.
Five entrances give access to the church, the central one, which is only open on great occasions, is decorated by a bronze door, the work of Ant Filarete, a pupil of Donatello: it was cast in 1455, by order of Pope Eugenius IV, for the old church of St Peter and used for the present Basilica after its reconstruction.
High up, opposite the bronze door, is the famous “Navicella” a mosaic (By Giotto) with a ship, (which according to the early Christian symbolization, represents the Church) and Christ walking on the sea, to raise Peter from the waves.
The ceiling is richly ornamented with hard marble stucco, after the design of Buonvicini, reproducing events from the life of the
Apostles. The last door on the right leading into the church in the: Porta Santa – or Holy Door, opened every twenty-five years, during the Jubilee year.
The pilgrims, passing through this door receive the plenary indulgence or full remission of their sins.
The two ends of the Vestibule are ornamented with the equestrian statues of the two greatest political defenders of the church: Charlemagne, by Cornacchini and Constantine, by Bernini.
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