Saint Peter’s Basilica is situated in Vatican City, the residence of Popes since 1377. The present church stands on the ruins of the ancient early Christian church dedicated to Peter, where the grave of the apostle is placed.
The building of the new Basilica was decided by Niccolò V, but it was carried out by his successor Giulio II;during the 176 years in which the factory of St. Peter was working, the most important architects and artists of the time worked there: Bramante, Rossellino, Antonio da Sangallo the younger, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini, Borromini, Maderno, Giacomo della Porta, Domenico Fontana, are only few of the great names that left their signs in the design of the Basilica, inside and outside.
The dome, clearly visible from many areas of the city, dominates the view of Rome; it was designed by Michelangelo and carried out by Fontana and Della Porta, and is one of the most famous buildings in the world. Arriving in St. Peter from Via della Conciliazione you come to the square designed by Bernini, an endless set of marvelous columns to which two fountains (one by Maderno and one by Domenico Fontana) join, and the central obelisk too. On the background you can see the façade of the Basilica, designed by Maderno and finished in 1614.
Within the portico, on the façade, 5 doors open; the one that stands on the right side is the Holy Door. This door is officially opened by the Pope according to a special rite, exactly on Christmas Day.
Once you cross the door, you’re struck by the grandiosity that characterizes the Basilica; going on you find the several treasures left by the great architects who worked there, till you come to the area corresponding to the dome. The space under the dome is partially occupied by the beautiful Baldachin made by Bernini; the sensation felt by the people who stand in this point of the Basilica is probably indescribable, one of those memories the visitor will certainly bring with him going back home.