Michelangelo's Moses, carved in the early 16th century for the never-completed tomb of Pope Julius II, has put this church on the map. The tomb was to include dozens of statues and stand nearly 40 feet tall when installed in St. Peter's Basilica. But only three statues—Moses and the two that flank it here, Leah and Rachel—had been completed when Julius died. Julius' successor as pope, from a rival family, had other plans for Michelangelo,
and the tomb was abandoned unfinished. The fierce power of this remarkable sculpture dominates its setting. People say that you can see the sculptor's profile in the lock of Moses's beard right under his lip, and that the pope's profile is also there somewhere. As for the rest of the church, St. Peter takes second billing to Moses. The reputed chains (vincoli) that bound St. Peter during his imprisonment by the Romans in Jerusalem are in a bronze and crystal urn under the main altar. Other treasures in the church include a 7th-century mosaic of St. Sebastian, in front of the second altar to the left of the main altar, and, by the door, the tomb of the Pollaiuolo brothers, two lesser 15th-century Florentine artists.
Piazza San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, 00184, Italy