When was the Vatican church built? This question will keep you on your toes for the rest of this article! The Vatican is a papal enclave located in the heart of Rome. The church was designed by two Italian masters – Michelangelo and Raphael – who worked together to create a magnificent masterpiece. The domes are the main attraction of the church, but the building is also a work of art in and of itself.
Michelangelo was chief architect
The opulent St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was Michelangelo’s commission at age 71. The structure is the centerpiece of the Vatican and features the tallest dome in the world. Michelangelo and his assistant, Donato Bromante, had to deal with five different architects during the first 40 years of construction. He ultimately oversaw the construction and completed the work on time.
The dome is the highest point in the church and is considered the most beautiful in the world. In addition to its beauty, it also serves as a reminder of the Holy Grail. Michelangelo designed the dome based on Bernini’s double-shelled masterpiece in Florence. However, Michelangelo did not live to see the dome completed. Giacomo della Porta finished it in the style he had envisioned.
The Vatican Church is one of the most famous works of art in the world. Many of his works can be found in the Sistine Chapel, Laurentian Library, and St. Peter’s Basilica. The Last Judgement fresco, for example, was commissioned by French cardinal Jean-Bilheres in 1494. In the same year, the French king invaded Florence, which was when Michelangelo became interested in the subject.
Another masterpiece of Michelangelo is the dome in St. Peter’s Basilica. In 1547, he began designing the dome for the basilica. Like his earlier work, this dome is composed of two brick shells with double the number of stone ribs. The dome is raised on a drum from the Basilica’s enormous Bramante piers. Corinthian columns surround the base of the dome, which bears the Greek cross.
Bramante minimized the use of costly materials
Pope Julius II wanted to reduce costs when building the Basilica. That’s why he instructed Bramante to use materials that are abundant but inexpensive. This material, travertine, is one example. The architect mined it from Tivoli, a mineral-rich town near the Vatican. He also used bricks and breccia, crushed tufa that’s cheap and abundant. Bramante even made use of fake travertine to give the church the look of real travertine.
One of the piers of St. Peter’s Cathedral is composed of four great concrete piers. Each pier was crowned with six-foot Corinthian capitals. The structure is supported by two piers on either side of the dome. When the structure was completed, the piers were covered in appropriate masonry. As a result, no one had ever balanced a large dome before.
The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, another chapel with two Bernini paintings, is the largest part of the church. The Bernini tabernacle, resembling Bramante’s Tempietto, is supported by two kneeling angels. A Pietro da Cortona painting of the Holy Trinity hangs above the altar. The altar of Our Lady of Succour features monuments to Gregory XIII and Saint Petronilla, and a Guercino altarpiece.
The new basilica’s location also had a significant negative impact on the facade. The good soil at the site of St. Peter’s is at a different depth. The northern side is 15 meters below the surface, while the southern one is 25 meters below. The foundation is also compromised by water springs and remains of the Circus of Nero. The facade of St. Peter’s is over 140,000 tons.
Michelangelo and Raphael worked together
Both artists were known for their great sculptural works, but this particular work of art is the most important. The sculptors of this Vatican church worked together closely and their combined talents can be seen in the frescoes in the Vatican Museums. You can see the fresco of the Last Judgement by Michelangelo, which includes 391 figures. The frescoes were based on classical models.
In the early years of the work of Raphael, he was a pupil of Perugino. This man was Raphael’s formal guardian, but they engaged in litigation between themselves and Raphael’s stepmother. Raphael lived with his stepmother when not living as an apprentice. However, Giorgio Vasari records that Raphael was a great help to his father. As a teenager, he showed precocious talents and may have managed his father’s workshop.
The two artists worked together on the construction of the Vatican church. In 1514, Raphael was appointed head of the building works at St. Peter’s and also commissioned him to paint the Vatican Loggia. Raphael was also the commissioner of antiquities and buried in the Pantheon. Raphael is considered the most important Italian artist.
When the Vatican church was being constructed, Raphael and Michelangelo collaborated on several other works. Raphael’s students included Raffaellino del Colle, Andrea Sabbatini, Vincenzo Tamagni, Battista Dossi, Timoteo Viti, and Giuli’s brother Lorenzetto.
Michelangelo’s design reduced the size of the domes
Originally, Michelangelo envisioned a dome similar to that of the Florence Cathedral. After several iterations, however, he settled on a hemispherical shape, which moderated the verticality of the lower stories and established a balance between the dynamic and static elements of the church. The resulting dome was the first to be completed in the Vatican.
In 1547, Michelangelo began to work on the basilica. He wanted to move closer to God and had no intention of receiving payment for his work. During the time, money was tight for the project, so Michelangelo opted to work without any payment. The Pope, however, was not able to pay the workers, so Michelangelo was forced to take part in the project as a volunteer. Later generations would consider Pope Paul III to be the hero behind the dome construction.
After the domes were completed, Michelangelo consulted Antonio da Sangallo, who was then head architect of St. Peter’s Cathedral. He was critical of Sangallo’s design and convinced the pope to eliminate the ambulatories. The new architect then reconstructed the plan and made the domes smaller. Michelangelo also used barrel vaults to strengthen the piers.
While Michelangelo was responsible for the construction of much of St. Peter’s Basilica, he was not paid for the work and refused to be paid. Ultimately, the Pope ordered him to do the painting himself, which he had initially resisted as he had expected the work to be a mess. The Sistene Chapel ceiling frescoes, for example, are considered Michelangelo’s greatest achievement in Western art.
Michelangelo’s design used Solomonic columns
The Solomonic columns of the Sistine Chapel were the foundational pillars of the Roman Catholic Church. They are still used today to support the dome and the sides of the church. Michelangelo’s design for the Vatican church included Solomonic columns as well. Although the Solomonic columns were not the first style to be used in churches, they were used to create a more natural appearance.
After the death of Michelangelo, his initial plans for the new church were altered significantly. The basilica was not large enough to accommodate Michelangelo’s tomb, so Julius turned to his friend and favorite architect, Donato Bramante, for help. Maderno recommended that the basilica have a grand colonnaded facade, which was added at the behest of Pope Paul V. This grand colonnaded facade would help the church accommodate a large number of people.
The original nave of the Vatican church had collapsed during a major earthquake, but Michelangelo’s design included Solomonic columns and a large mosaic of Christ, the Evangelists, and the Twenty-four Elders of the Apocalypse. Although the mosaic was destroyed during the demolition of the old basilica, the Altar of St. Sebastian mosaic was retained and is the most popular pilgrimage site in the church.
The Solomonic columns used in Michelangelo’s design for the Roman church are 20 m high and were supplemented by six others. The three-section columns form a double screen and were thought to have been brought to Rome by the Roman Emperor Constantine. The columns were trimmed with tassels and scalloped borders. During the First Vespers of Saint Peter’s in 1633, the Pope inaugurated the work.