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BASILICA DI SAN PIETRO VATICANO, or the Basilica of Saint Peter, is located within the State of the Vatican City in Rome, Italy. It is one of the greatest of all churches and holiest sites of Christendom, ranked only below the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome.
Construction of the St. Peter's Basilica began on 18th April, 1506, and was completed in 1626. It is the most prominent building inside the Vatican City with its dome a dominant feature of the skyline of Rome. Probably the largest church in Christianity, it covers an area of 2.3 hectares and has a capacity of over 60,000 people.
St. Peter's Basilica is famous as a place of pilgrimage, and also for its liturgical functions and its associations with the Counter-reformation and numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo. Catholic tradition holds that the basilica is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter (one of the twelve apostles of Jesus), the first Bishop of Antioch, and later first Bishop of Rome.
Contrary to a common misconception, St. Peter's is not a cathedral as it does not hold the seat of a bishop, hence its proper term "basilica". Like all the earliest churches in Rome, it has the entrance to the east and the apse at the west end of the building.