St. Peter's of Rome
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Architect Giacomo della Porta
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Location Vatican City, surrounded by Rome, Italy   map
Date 1546 to 1564 and 1590   timeline
Building Type church
 Construction System bearing masonry
Climate mediterranean
Context urban
Style Italian Renaissance
Notes With Michelangelo. "New St. Peter's" or "Saint Peter's" or "San Pietro". Centralized dome plan. See also Piazza of St. Peter's.


Photo, eye-level looking across

Photo, interior crossing

Photo, interior, detail and side spaces


Axonometric Drawing

Plan Drawing

Plan Drawing


Section Drawing




Perspective Drawing

More drawings available on The GBC CD-ROM.   Contributions appreciated.

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Discussion St. Peter's of Rome Commentary

"St. Peter's, the most magnificent church in Christendom and the fruit of many talents, soars triumphantly above the Vatican Hill. For nearly 150 years, a succession of popes entertained the idea of glorifying the shrine of their patron saint."

— John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. p153.

"The medal by Caradosso (1506) and the partial plan drawn by Bramante (in the Uffizi, Florence), probably represent the earliest stage of the design, before the difficulties appeared which obliged the architect and his successors to propose, and in some cases implement, numerous changes. These changes related not only to the general conception of the plan—first a Greek cross, then a Latin one—but also to the plan of the transepts, which at one time were to have ambulatories; to the role of the Orders, first purely decorative (Bramante), then structural (Raphael, Michelangelo); and to the construction and shape of the dome, first with a single masonry shell (Bramante), then a double one (Sangallo, Michelangelo). The piers at the crossing, which were intended to support the dome, were one of the biggest problems; too slender in Bramante's plan, they were frequently reinforced... In the 17th century further important modifications were made by Bernini when he created the great colonnade that encircles the Piazza San Pietro."

— John Julius Norwich, ed. The World Atlas of Architecture. p276.


The brick dome 138 feet in diameter rises 452 feet above the street, and 390 feet above the floor, with four iron chains for a compression ring. Four internal piers each 60 feet square.The dome is 452 ft high (above the pavement) and is buttressed by the apses and supported internally by four massive piers more than 18 meters (60 feet) thick.

— taken from John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. p153.

Sources on St. Peter's of Rome

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. circle and square diagram, p185. — Updated edition available at

Werner Blaser and Monica Stucky. Drawings of Great Buildings. Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-7643-1522-9. LC 83-15831. NA2706.U6D72 1983. plan drawing, p114. section drawings, p115. — Available at

Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1537.002. PCD.2260.1012.1537.003. PCD.2260.1012.1537.005

Sir Banister Fletcher. Sir Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture. 18th ed., revised by J.C. Palmes. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975. ISBN 684-14207-4. NA200.F63. drawings, photos, and discussion, p838-843. — The classic text of architectural history. Expanded 1996 edition available at

Ludwig G. Heydenreich and Wolfgang Lotz. Architecture in Italy, 1400 to 160. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1974. ISBN 14-0560-38-6. NA1115.H4913. plan drawing of Michelangelo's St. Peter's 1546, f52d, p158. plan drawing of Bramante's St. Peter's 1506, f52a, p158.

Spiro Kostof. A History of Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-19-503472-4. LC 84-25375. NA200.K65 1985. f20.16b, 20.17, 20.18. p502.

Linda Murray. Michelangelo, His Life, Work and Times. London: Thames and Hudson, 1984. exterior photo of dome from rear, p220.

Peter Murray. Architecture of the Renaissance. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1971. ISBN 8109-1000-4. LC 70-149850. NA510.M87. worm's eye axonometric section drawing of transept and dome, f307, p205. section drawing of Michelangelo scheme, f304, p203.

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. New York: Random House, 1975. ISBN 0-394-49887-9. NA200.G76. discussion, p153. plans and exterior photo, p152-153. Reprint edition: Da Capo Press, April 1991. ISBN 0-3068-0436-0. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at

John Julius Norwich, ed. The World Atlas of Architecture. New York. : Portland House, 1988. ISBN 0-517-66875-0. discussion, p276.

G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. dome interior photo, p72, dome exterior, p73.

Alene Stickles, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, July 1993. PCD.2365.1012.0634.063, view of dome from the Vatican Museum. PCD.2365.1012.0634.055.

Russell Sturgis. The Architecture Sourcebook. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1984. ISBN 0-442-20831-9. LC 84-7275. NA2840.S78. interior perspective drawing, p382.

John Varriano. Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-19-503547-X. LC 85-2902. NA1116.V37. plan drawing of present building, f15, p34.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about St. Peter's of Rome


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