It certainly is incredibly impressive, both externally and internally. We visited here on our first day in Rome, but there is so much to see at St Peter's, that we returned on the second day and spent another four hours there.
This blog post and the images that are attached are of the external area only. These first images are of the Apostles on the facade of St Peter's.
Carlo Maderno designed for St Peter's a façade which was very similar to a palace, because it lacked the central higher section, which usually characterizes the façade of churches. This decision was due to the need of not hiding the view of the dome, a view which had already been impaired by the prolongation of the eastern arm of the church originally designed by Michelangelo. The need to emphasize the religious nature of the façade and to increase its verticality led to the decision of positioning 13 large statues on its top. The statues show Jesus with the Twelve Apostles, or to be precise eleven apostles and St John Baptist. The missing apostle is St Peter, because he was portrayed (with St Paul) in a statue in the square very near the façade.
Statues on the Facade (5.7m tall)
Surmounting the balustrade you'll find Christ the Redeemer, St. John the Baptist and 11 Apostles. From the left: St. Thadeus, St. Matthew, St. Philip, St. Thomas, St. James the Greater, St. John the Baptist, The Redeemer, St. Andrew, St. John the Evangelist, St. James the Lesser, St. Bartholomew, St. Simeon, St. Matthias.
In this image (below) I am standing on the main steps and the queue goes from the far left, past all the buildings and to the far right..... by this time it would probably take the people at the far right of the image about 25 minutes to reach where I am standing.
and the clock on the facade of St Peter's Basilica, showing 10.00am as we are about to enter .....