When traveling to Rome, you can’t certainly miss a visit to the astonishing Saint Peter’s Basilica, which dominates the vast Square. Located in the very heart of the Vatican City, it took more than 150 years to artists such as Raffaello Sanzio and Michelangelo to complete the work, overcome by the 136 meters of the dome.
Inside the Basilica resides a stunning alter known as St. Peter's Baldachin. Designed by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, it was intended to mark the place of St. Peter's tomb underneath. Under its canopy is the high altar of the basilica. Commissioned by Pope Urban VIII, the work began in 1623 and ended in 1634. The bronze and gilded baldachin was the first of Bernini's works to combine sculpture and architecture and represents an important development in Baroque church interior design.
The canopy rests upon four helical marble columns. The columns support a cornice which curves inwards. Above this, four twice lifesize angels stand at the corners. Behind whom four large volutes rise up to a second smaller cornice which in turn supports the gilded cross on a sphere, a symbol of the world redeemed by Christianity.
Fascinatingly, the four columns are 20 metres or 66 feet high. Their helical form was derived from the smaller marble helical columns once thought to have been brought to Rome by the Emperor Constantine from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem and which were used in the Old Saint Peter's Basilica.
This world-famous dome was designed by Michelangelo, and later used as a model for other domes all over the world. When you will see its iconic profile dominating the skyline of Rome, or the spectacle of its lights at night, you won’t wonder why that happened, and the symbol of Christianity all over the world will make you fall in love.
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