The 1500s were part of the Renaissance, a historical period that began in Europe in the early 1400s. Renaissance thinkers, teachers, and artists greatly admired the art, architecture, and writings of ancient Greece and Rome. The Renaissance was especially strong on the Italian Peninsula. The Roman Empire had been centered in Italy. Roman statues, arches, temples, domes, and columns could still be found in Italian cities. Renaissance architects studied those structures to understand Roman design and construction. One of the architects was Donato Bramante (1444–1514). In October 1505, Julius II hired Bramante to design the new basilica.
Bramante shared Julius’s vision of the basilica as a huge and magnificent building. The architect based his design on two ancient Roman buildings-