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This is an extract from the Reading Materials in English that are available in the English and Education section of the website of the Liberal Party of  Sri Lanka,

The entire text of Historic Buildings by Goolbai Gunasekara, covering twelve famous constructions, is now available on that website.

St. Peter's Basilica

The first place a tourist in Rome wishes to visit is usually St Peter’s Cathedral. It is the largest church in the world and certainly the most famous.

The site of the church has a story behind it. It is believed that St. Peter, Jesus Christ’s chief disciple who is said to have been the first Bishop of Rome, was martyred and buried around 64 BC on the very spot where St Peter’s Cathedral now stands. It was therefore considered holy ground even before anything was built on it.

In 319 AD the Emperor Constantine built the original basilica there. It lasted over a thousand years. But in the 15th century the Popes, as the Bishops of Rome were called when they established themselves as the heads of the Catholic Church, left Rome and lived at Avignon in France. There was a split in the Catholic Church and many old churches were badly neglected. St. Peter’s was particularly affected so Pope Nicholas V began a new construction when the Papacy came back to Rome.

There were many quarrels over the building of St. Peter’s, but finally the architect Bramante was employed. He is one of the most famous Renaissance names but he was accused of embezzling funds and was sacked. Then a series of equally famous architects were brought in over the years. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

August 2010
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