Miracle in Stone
Della Porta, who had been Michelangelo's pupil, did the unthinkable. He redrew the master's design, creating a far bolder silhouette, and he raised the new dome in just 22 months. Dwarfing every other construction, the dome of St. Peter's soars 452 feet and spans a 138-foot diameter. It is three times the height of the Pantheon dome and 100 feet higher than the Duomo in Florence. The inner shell visible inside the basilica retained Michelangelo's rounded contour. The outer shell that fills the sky over Rome is a higher, more dramatic ellipse.