Churches of Europe | St Peter’s Basilica, Rome

Whenever I travel there are three things I must, absolutely MUST do, visit the churches, museums and bridges. The last one, yeah I have no idea too simply because I am terrified of heights and things that are larger than life, check statues. I have an irrational fear of statues, its the reason I can never, right now, go to Hamburg because of my fear of the birther in the lake… Even if she is no longer there, I feel as if she might just pop up, come alive and devour me… don’t laugh its a real phobia of mine. But anyway, back to the topic at hand, one of the reasons I love Europe so much is its history, the good and the bad, which are all open for all to see and in this day and age where facts are available at your finger tips, there is nowhere to hide the ugliness in the beauty. And one of my must visit when I travel the continent is visiting churches, they are filled with history and some of the most fascinating facts.

St Peter’s Basilica in Rome is Italy’s most glorious churches, allegedly, I haven’t visited all the churches in Italy… The sight of the Holy Seat, it passed through a lot of hands before construction was complete in the 1600s. One of the architects was Michaelangelo who simplified the earlier drawings and constructed the dome, which in itself is a glorious piece of art. It was completed in 1590 byGiacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana. Carlo Maderno completed the façade in 1612 which include the Loggia della Benedizione, the balcony where the Pope is first introduced to the world and gives ceremonial addresses during catholic ceremonies.

Inside the Basilica, amongst many works of art, is Michaelangelo’s most astounding piece, Pieta which he sculpted at the age of twenty-five. When we visited the sculpture was being cleaned so it was boarded up but we got to see it when a security guard let us peak through the barricade. and took several faraway pictures. If you have not seen the Pieta it is one of those works one simply MUST see in one’s lifetime. If the art world were to have a wonders of the world list this will be on it. Past the Pieta, up ahead in the alter is another wonder of the art world, Bernini’s baldachin and right above it is the dome.

Look up at the fresco’d ceiling to see some of the most beautiful paintings that tell a story, so many biblical stories. One thing that does strike me about the Basilica, I almost expected it to be more grandiose, it is definitely grand but not ostentatious, unlike St Ignatius in Lisbon, rumoured to be the richest church in the world, more on that later.

And if you’re up for it, walk up the 300 some steps, after taking the lift up 200 some steps to the top of the Basilica for a view of all of Rome spread out before you.