|Tomb of Pius XI in the Vatican Grottoes |
beneath Saint Peter's Basilica
Sangallo made an even more important contribution to the Basilica by raising the level of the floor 12 ½ feet above the level of Constantine’s basilica. While this altered Bramante’s proportions, and not for the better, it also created the crypt beneath the nave that would become the grottoes of the papal tombs. (In the 20th century, the crypt floor would be lowered a meter to give more headroom.) Despite his elaborate plans, however, actual construction on the basilica would progress little by the time of Sangallo’s death in 1546. It was just as well as his successor, Michelangelo, wanted to clear the deck and start over. Michelangelo would develop what his predecessors, especially Bramante, had built but at the same time he would take those elements and integrate them into a design uniquely his own.