The Vatican has been an autonomous state since 1929. It is located on the very spot upon which St Peter was martyred and burned. The first Christian Emperor Constantine built a Basilica there in the 4th century AD, which was later destroyed and rebuilt. In the 15th century, the building was crumbling and the best architects of the period, Bramante, Michelangelo, Bernini and Maderno came up with the designs for a new church which was to be the biggest in the world.
St Peter's Basilica is thus a magnificent architectural work. Michelangelo was responsible for the design of the dome, which is an impressive 136m high with a diameter of 42m.
Step inside the Basilica, and you can see several masterpieces: The famous Pieta, by Michelangelo, the baldachin (canopy) above the altar by Bernini and the bronze statue of St Peter by Arnolfo di Cambio. Saint Peter's Square and its colonnade were designed by Bernini and can accommodate almost 300,000 people for ceremonies and benedictions by the Pope.
No visits during religous offices
Modest clothing required