10 Facts You Didn't Know About St. Peter's Basilica

Updated: Dec 5, 2018


If you’re coming to Rome, chances are you will definitely stop by the Vatican. Whether you’re Catholic or not, this church represents a faith and history that has had an enormous influence on cultures all over the world. It also houses some of the greatest works of art the world has ever seen by the artist Michelangelo.


So before you hop on your tour, because of course you should take one. Here are 10 interesting facts about St. Peter’s basilica to whet your appetite.


  1. This is the second iteration of St. Peter’s Basilica. The original was built in the 4th century, in the year 324

  2. St. Perter’s Basilica is one out of the two largest churches in the world and is considered one of the holiest Catholic shrines.

  3. There are 491 stairs to get to the top of Michelangelo’s dome

  4. In the square, outside of the church there are statues of 140 various saints

  5. There are over 100 tombs within the church holding a number of popes, the Roman Emperor Otto II and even the Swedish Queen Christina, two royals who abdicated their thrones for Christianity

  6. In took 219 years, 31 popes and 10 architects before the construction of the basilica was complete

  7. The statue of Pieta is the only work Michelangelo ever signed, and is housed behind bullet proof glass

  8. In an aerial view, the main piazza resembles a key hole, which is was designed to reference the keys handed to Peter by Christ and therefore the key to the church

9. The decorations on the walls of the basilica are not paintings, they are actually mosaics, or small pieces of stone and glass placed together to form an image

10. The altar of St. Peter’s was built in it’s location because it is believed that his remains are directly beneath. However, there is still some contention that he grave site may actually be elsewhere

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