St Peter's Basilica
 Top 10 Features of St Peter's Basilica

Michelangelo carved this masterpiec in 1499 at the age of 25. it is at once gracefull and mournful, stately and ethereal. It has been protected by glass since 1972, when a man screaming " I am Jesus Christ!" attaked with a hammer, damaging the vergin's nose and fingers.

The Dome
When Michelangelo designed a dome to span St Peter's massive transept, he made it 42 m (138 ft) in diameter, in deferance to the Pantheon's 43-m (141 ft) dome. you can ride an elevator much of the way, but must still navigate the 330 stairs between the domo's inner and outer shell to the 132-m-high (135 ft) lantern and sweep ing vistas acroos the city.

Piazza San Pietro
Bernini's remarkable semi-elliptical colonnades transformed the basilica's approach into a pair of welcoming arms embraching faithfull. sadly, the full effect of entering square from a warren of madieval streets was spoiled when Mussolini razed the neighbourhood to lay down pompous via della conciliazione. the obelisk came from Alexandria.

Whether you vew its ostentatious or glorious, bernini's huge altar canopy is at least impressive. Its spiralling bronze columns are claimed to have been made from reventments (portico ceiling decoration) of the Pantheon, taken by Pope Urban Vlll. For his desecration of the ancient tample the Berberini pope and his family were castigated with the waggish quip: "What even the barbarians wouldn't do, Barberini did."

Statue of St Peter
A holdover from the medieval St Peter's, this 13th-century bronze statue by the sculptor Arnolfo di cambio has achieved holy statue. The faithful can be seen lining up to rub ( or kiss ) Peter's well-worn foot for luck.

Among the acclesiastical thresoures her is 6th-century, jewel-encrusted bronze cross (the crux Vaticana), various fragements of the medieval basilica including ciborium by Donatello (1432), and Antonio Pollaiolo's masterful bronze slab tomb (1493) for Sixtus lV, the pope's effigy surrounded by reprasantation of theological virtues and liberal arts.

Bernini's exuberently Baroque stained.glass window (1666) centres on a dove rpresenting the Holy Ghost, surroundad by ray of the sun and riot of sculptural details. Beneath the window sits the chair of St Peter (1665) another bernini concoction: inside is a wood and ivory chair said to be the actual thron of St Peter. Bernini also crafted the multicoloured marble Monument to Urban Vlll (1644) to the right , based on Michalangelo's Medici tombs in Florence. It is of far better artistic quality than Giuglielmo Porta's similar one for Pope Paul lll (1549) to the left.

Many of the medieval basilica's monuments are housed beneath the basilica's floor. During excavation in the 1940s workers discover in the Necropolis the legendary Red Wall behind which St Peter was supposedly burried. The wall was covered with early medieval graffiti invoking the saint. and a box of bones was found behind it.

Alexander Vll's Monument
One of Bernini's last works (1678) showes figures of Justice, Truth, Chastity and prodence gazing up at the pontiff seated in the deep shadows of the niche. A skeleton crowls from under the flowing marble drapery to hold aloft hourglass as a reminder of mortality.

Central Piers
Until modern times, a church was measoured by its relice. St Peter's Basilica houses the spear of St Longinius, which jabbed Jesus's side on the Cross. St Veronica's handkerchief bearing Chris's face, and a fragement of the True Cross.