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One of the iconic symbols of your visit to Rome is the magnificent Saint Peter's Basilica, located within the walls of the Vatican, in  St Peters Square.

Surprisingly, it is not the Pope's official ecclesiastical seat but  is his principal church, where most Papal ceremonies take place, due mainly to its size, proximity to the Papal residence and location within the City walls of the Vatican.

Beneath the main altar there is another altar dedicated to St Peter. Recent excavations have discovered a burial chamber beneath this altar containing a skeleton with its feet missing. Some archaeologists have suggested that these are the actual remains of Saint Peter himself.

The interior, which includes 45 altars, has been decorated by many famous artists. Some of the most important works in the church are the Pietà by Michelangelo, the papal altar and the Throne of St. Peter, both by Bernini, and the Monument to the Stuarts by CanovaIt.

The dome or cupola was designed by Michelangelo when he became chief architect in 1546. When he died in1564, the dome had only been finished as far as the base on which domes itself sits. Between 1585 and 1590, the architect Giacomo della Porta, with the help of the predominant engineer of the time, Domenico Fontana, completed it's construction, the following year Fontana built the lantern, and in 1593 the ball was placed in position.

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