LED lighting gives St. Peter's basilica new brilliance

November 02, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The Vatican Technical Services Directorate has contracted Osram for the new lighting in St. Peter's Basilica. The project will help the Vatican to reduce the electricity bill for the basilica, but the main aim is to highlight the pieces of art in the church effectively.

St. Peter’s basilica is the largest church in the world. The Technical Director of the Vatican City Council (Servizi Tecnici del Governatorato dello Stato della Città del Vaticano) and the St. Peter's Cathedral Building Cabinet have chosen Osram's LED technology to renew the interior lighting of the Basilica. The interior will thus revive its splendour, grandeur and architectural complexity in a new light. The innovative LED light sources used will not only provide a unique experience in the future, similar to the lighting of the Sistine Chapel in 2014, but will also enable energy savings of around 85 percent.

The LED technology has already proved its worth for the lighting of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Square. St. Peter's Basilica, which can accommodate up to 20,000 people, is about 190 metres long, the width of the three naves is 58 metres, the central nave has a height of just under 46 metres to the highest point of the arch, and the dome reaches a height of about 136 metres. The interiors, with their large mosaic decorations, are the precious jewelry box for some of the world's most famous works of art, including the Bernini canopy and Michelangelo's Pietà statue.

Not quite trivial: The LED lighting should not simply increase
the brightness in St. Peter's Basilica, but should set the artworks
in scene effectively.

The lighting can be adjusted according to the respective requirements. The system will emphasise the characteristics of the materials used and the architecture itself, highlighting the plasticity of the sculptures and marble parts as well as the architecture. The decisions in this area were taken jointly: the technical services of the Vatican City Governorate and the Cathedral Construction Works of St. Peter provided important expertise, and the Vatican Museums contributed their artistic competence. The lighting project is to be completed by Christmas 2018.

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