The Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains is a minor basilica in Rome, first built between 432 and 440 on already preexisting foundations. The basilica offers no architectural spectacle (it has a quite modest-looking facade), but the inner artistic patrimony and the historical background (mostly sustained by tradition) turn the venue into a sight worth visiting while in Rome.

From its foundation until now, this place of worship was substantially altered, first in the 8th century, under Pope Adrian I, and secondly in the 11th century. The 15th century saw the execution of the most ample and memorable restoration works, under Cardinal della Rovere. These works were completed in the mid 16th century, and they significantly enhanced the artistic patrimony of the basilica. Other additions were initiated in the 18th and in the 19th century (such as the coffered ceiling of the nave frescoed by Giovanni Battista Parodi).

The basilica is especially notable for its relics, that is, the chains in which Saint Peter was kept during his imprisonment in Jerusalem. The relics were brought to Rome by Empress Euxodia, who bestowed them to Pope Leo I. It is under the main altar of the basilica that they are kept, in a glass reliquary. As important as these chains might be from the point of view of a dedicated pilgrim, they are not the only tourist trump, so to speak, of the basilica. Michelangelo’s Moses, one of the greatest achievements of the Renaissance sculpture, is sheltered here. It adorns the tomb of Pope Julius II, a monument Michelangelo was commissioned to adorn with 44 sculptures (a task never completed by the artist), the tomb being in itself, by its decorative patrimony, an artistic highlight of the basilica.

Another notable tomb here is of Antonio Pollaiuolo, next to the tomb of Cinzio Passeri Aldobrandini.

Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains (Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli)
4/A, Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli, 00184, Rome, Italy
0039 06 97844952 / 0039 06 97844950
0039 06 97844985
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