San Pietro in Vincoli | Attraction Guides | History Hit

San Pietro in Vincoli

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Peta Stamper

09 Jul 2021

About San Pietro in Vincoli

Originally built in the 5th century AD, the beautiful San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome is a quiet, inconspicuous ancient church containing several stunning sculptures by the famous artist Michelangelo as well as famed religious artefacts said to date back to St Peter.

Also known as Basilica Eudoxiana, today visitors can see what is said to be the chains themselves, which are located under the main altar.

San Pietro in Vincoli history

Commissioned by Empress Eudoxia – wife of Roman Emperor Valentinian III – the church was constructed between 432 and 440 to house the shackles of St Peter, an ancient relic believed to have been those used to imprison St Peter during his time in Jerusalem and Rome. This original church was rebuilt over the centuries, with major works in the 8th century AD and then again around 1500 AD.

However, it was with the contribution from Michelangelo that San Pietro in Vincoli really gained its iconic status – with the artist being commissioned to produce the tomb for Pope Julius II. Though this work was never fully completed, the astounding Moses sculpture remains a key draw for visitors to the site today.

San Pietro in Vincoli today

Open between 8am and 7pm each day, the unassuming basilica seen today is the result of several restorations – especially during the 11th century under Pope Adrian I, with a new portico in the 15th century and further work in the 18th and 19th centuries. Inside, you will be in awe of the Doric columns and coffered ceiling with a fresco of the ‘Miracle of the Chains’ from 1706.

Yet the centrepiece of any visit to the basilica is Michelangelo’s ‘Moses’ – completed in 1515 – that shows Moses with horns symbolising ‘the radiance of the Lord’, popular in sacred Renaissance art. Other works of art include canvases of Saint Augustine and St Margaret and the tombs of famous painter and sculptor, Antonio Pollaiuolo, who made the Romulus and Remus on the Capitol.

Getting to San Pietro in Vincoli

Situated just minutes from the Colosseum on foot, the San Pietro in Vincoli is easily reached by walking or using Rome’s public transport. The nearest metro is Colosseo on line 1, also served by buses 51, 75, 85, 87 and 117.

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