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St. Peter’s Basilica: A Photo Essay

Exterior of Basilica di San Pietro Or St. Peter’s Basilica as seen from St. Peter’s Square

My favorite part of my recent tour of the Vatican came after I left the building and entered St. Peter’s Square. Unlike the Basilica and the adjoining Vatican museums, the exterior piazza wasn’t filled wall to wall with people. Outside I had some space and could get a better grasp on the scale of the cathedral, as well as the adjoining museums and papal apartments.

The sartorial stylings of the Swiss Guard never disappoint

The scale of St. Peters is truly impressive. I the Swiss Guard’s traditional garb highly amusing. The Swiss Guard range in age from 19 to 30 years old are recruited based on their religion (they must be Catholic) and single to work as part of the Pope’s personal guard detail. Their uniforms don’t exactly scream military prowess, but hey, this is the Holy See and it’s not like people elsewhere rock ermine cloaks and get taken seriously.

St. Peter’s Basilica is immense. The seating capacity within the church is over 15,000 people

The interior of St. Peter’s has a seating capacity of over 15,000. Most of the seats are plastic portable chairs not unlike those you’d find at the DMV. The key here is that the chairs can be removed or re-arranged. These same types of seats are sometimes used out on the Piazza for papal audiences, where crowds of 60,000 can fit into St. Peter’s Square. That’s about the same capacity as Dodger Stadium.

Left: Papal souvenirs at one of the many gift shops within St. Peters Right: Paintings in the room before the Sistine Chapel

The paintings in the domed roof of St. Peters were very beautiful

My neck hurt from looking up so much during the tour. The painted details on the domed ceilings in the knave were rather impressive- possibly because there were no modern details (like tourists or plastic chairs) ruining the view.

Sculptures of the twelve Saints adore the exterior roof of St. Peters along the square

The details on the roof and Bernini’s impressive columns make St. Peter’s Square worth the trip to Vatican City, even if you don’t have the time or interest to put up with the crowds to tour the Vatican.

Looking Up at the pretty clouds above the exterior of St. Peter’s Basilica