A total weight of about 14,000 tons, 133.30 meters of external height from the street level to the top of the cross, 117.57 meters its internal height from the floor to the vault of the lantern, an outer diameter of 58.90 meters, an inner diameter of 41.50 meters: these are the impressive numbers of the dome that dominates the basilica, the symbol of Christianity, the work of the genius of Michelangelo Buonarroti, and visited every year by millions of faithful from all over the world.
The works began in 1546, during the pontificate of Paul III Farnese, and suspended in 1564, on the death of Michelangelo. They resumed during the papacy of Sixtus V Peretti by Giacomo Della Porta and Domenico Fontana in 1588 and the employment of about 800 workers. Twenty-two months later, the construction site could be considered complete. A mass and the explosion of fireworks celebrated the event.
The lantern was completed and the dome covered with lead plates during the pontificate of Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592-1605).
On 18 November 1593, the gilded bronze sphere surmounted by the cross, the work of Sebastiano Torrigiani, was placed on top of the lantern.
The access to the dome is through a long spiral climb, the so-called "lumaca di Sant'Andrea" and 537 steps leading up to the external gallery, which offers a breathtaking view of Piazza San Pietro, the Bernini's colonnade and a 360-degrees panoramic view of the city and the surrounding territories, up to the Castelli Romani and the sea.
From here, Rome unveils all its beauty. The Eternal City is at your feet, in the breadth of its neighborhoods alternating with green gardens, furrowed in the middle by the Tiber and surrounded by the blue Colli Albani in the distance.
Fascinating fact: not far from the splendid Villa Doria Pamphilj is Via Niccolò Piccolomini, a charming residential street about 300 meters long offering an unmissabl experience and a suggestive visual effect. From here, you can admire St. Peter's dome in a magical game of perspectives. Follow the street, and as you approach, the "Cupolone," as the Romans affectionately call the dome, seems to recede; on the contrary, moving back, it appears larger and closer. It is a curious optical illusion due to the layout of the buildings and the observation point that makes Via Piccolomini a special place for a romantic evening and one of the many Rome's "magnificent deceptions."
The Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican
The Mausoleum of Hadrian - Saint Angel Castle
The Passetto di Borgo
October 1 - March 31: daily, 7.30 - 17.00
April 1 - September 30: daily, 7.30 - 18.00
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