You will find so many wonderful churches in Rome, but no church can hold a candle to the splendid St. Peter’s Basilica.
This basilica is the largest, most opulent and spectacular in Italy and probably in the world.
This monument is the result of centuries of artistic genius: inside you can admire masterpieces such as Michelangelo Buonarroti’s pieta and majestic dome and Bernini’s baldachin on the high altar, which is a whopping 29 meters high.
- The Pantheon’s dome is the largest ever built of concrete without reinforcement.
- Brunelleschi was inspired by the Pantheon to design the dome of Florence Cathedral, and Michelangelo studied it to design the dome of St. Peter’s.
- Light enters from the Pantheon’s large oculus, but also rain: there are drainage holes under the pavement.
- The Pantheon houses the tomb of Raphael as well as those of Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II, Umberto I and Queen Margaret of Savoy.
Pantheon: Info, tickets and fees
St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, 00186 Rome RM
Line A, stops ‘Ottaviano – Vatican Museums’ or ‘Cyprus’
- The normal visit to St. Peter’s Basilica is free but with long lines at the entrance;
- Audioguide 5€(Book your audioguide)
- Guided Tour 27€(Book your guided tour)
- Guided tour of the Basilica, St. Peter’s Square and Vatican Grottoes(Book your guided tour)
- Guided tour of the Basilica Dome(Book your guided tour)
- Recommended: do you also want to visit St. Peter’s Basilica (official guided tour), the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel (last-minute ticket) and all the best of Vatican City? Take a look at the benefits of Vatican City Pass
- April – September: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- October – March: 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
- Closed on January 1 and January 6, Easter and special religious holidays.
- April – September: 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- October – March: 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- April – September: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- October – March: 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- Closed on Sundays and special religious holidays.
As with most churches in Rome, clothing with shoulders and knees covered is required. Do not wear flip-flops.
Guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica
If you want to get the most out of your visit to St. Peter’s, it is highly recommended that you book the official guided tour.
You will be accompanied by an experienced guide for a 1-hour tour, discovering this incredible monument, its curiosities and all its secrets.
- Live guides are available in English, Italian, French, German or Spanish.
- Children between the ages of 7 and 17 (with a valid photo ID) are entitled to a discounted ticket.
- You have free cancellation up to 24 hours before the scheduled tour.
- Select your date and time slot online and arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled tour.
- Tickets are sent by e-mail that you can then show printed or in digital form.
- You will meet your guide at the welcome desk in the atrium of the basilica.
Roma Tourist Card: cultural tourism card of Rome
To get the most out of your visit to Rome, it is very advantageous to purchase the Roma Tourist Card.
In addition to the guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, you can visit other famous Roman attractions with the same pass: skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel; the Pantheon audio guide; and priority admission to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.
Just select the dates of your stay in Rome and you will receive your tickets directly via Email.
What is included:
- A guided tour of the Basilica with an official Vatican guide.
- Headset for listening to guidance at all times.
- Unlimited time after the guided tour to explore the basilica.
St. Peter's Basilica: what to see and do
An extraordinary temple erected 2,000 years ago and later transformed into a Christian basilica, the Pantheon is the city’s best-preserved ancient monument and one of the most remarkable buildings in Western architecture.
If the grayish, pockmarked exterior shows the wear and tear of time, the interior provides a unique and exciting experience: that of stepping through the bronze doors and lifting one’s gaze to the largest dome ever built of unreinforced concrete.
After crossing St. Peter’s Square you will stand before the majestic white travertine facade of the Basilica.
This immense facade was designed by Carlo Maderno and is 48 m high and 115 m wide.
Eight 27-m-high columns support the upper attic topped by 13 statues depicting the apostles.
The central balcony is known as the “Lodge of Blessings.” From this balcony the pope gives urbi et orbi blessings at Christmas and Easter. From here, the election of each new pontiff is also announced with the famous “habemus papam” formula.
In the atrium you can admire the Porta anta that is opened only in Jubilee years.
The Altar, the Baldachin and the Chair of St. Peter
Una volta all’interno della basilica di San Pietro potrete osservare la navata centrale dominata dal Baldacchino di Bernini in stile barocco alto 29 metri e sorretto da quattro colonne tortili.
Questo baldacchino fu realizzato fondendo il bronzo asportato dal portico di ingresso del Pantheon nel 1633.
Al di sotto del baldacchino potrete ammirare l’altare papale davanti al quale si apre il confessionale di Carlo Maderno che si trova proprio nel luogo dove originariamente fu sepolto San Pietro.
Nell’abside dietro l’altare potrete ammirare la Cattedra di San Pietro di Bernini. Qui è incorporato un grande trono in bronzo dorato, sorretto da quattro santi alti ben 5 m.
The Dome of St. Peter's
The dome of St. Peter’s designed by Michelangelo is an architectural masterpiece that was completed shortly after the architect’s death in 1564 by Giacomo della Porta.
The dome is flooded with light from 16 windows decorated with frescoes and mosaics.
To fully experience your visit to St. Peter’s, it is recommended to climb to the top of the dome. To gain access, one must pass through the entrance on the right side of the basilica portico. You either walk up 551 steps or use the elevator to the halfway point and continue walking up the last 320 steps.
In any case, it is a rather long and steep climb, not recommended for those with claustrophobia or those who suffer from vertigo.
Once you reach the top, however, you are rewarded by a spectacular view from 120 meters above St. Peter’s Square.
Inside the Basilica, the first chapel its right houses the “Pieta” a work that Michelangelo completed at the age of 25.
Today the statue is protected by armored glass after a vandal attack in 1972.
This statue is one of the most famous sculptures in the world. It is a unique and exciting work: the body of a grown man lying abandoned with natural grace in the lap of a woman.
The Pieta is the only sculptural work that Michelangelo signed, after learning that someone had attributed the sculpture to another artist.
You can find his initials on the band across Mary’s chest.
The bronze statue of St. Peter
One of the basilica’s most beloved works for visitors is undoubtedly the bronze statue of St. Peter, sculpted by Arnolfo di Cambio.
This wonderful statue dating from the late 13th century depicts St. Peter seated on his marble throne, holding the keys to the kingdom of heaven and blessing with his other hand.
The statue’s right foot is now worn down from centuries of kissing and caressing by worshippers.
Access to the Vatican Grottoes, is located just behind Bernini’s statue of St. Andrew. A flight of steps will lead you right under the basilica.
This area can only be visited and accessed in part and inside are many tombs of popes and monarchs. The confession chapel just below the high altar can also be admired. It is the closest point to where St. Peter is thought to have been buried.
There is also currently an empty tomb dedicated to Pope Benedict XVI who resigned in 2013 but is not actually dead yet.
The exit leads out of the basilica so it is best to visit the Vatican grottoes at the end of the tour.
Curiosities about St. Peter's Basilica
- The Basilica is named after St. Peter, the most important among the apostles. He was sentenced to death by Emperor Nero.
- St. Peter’s Basilica was built on the site where St. Peter was crucified.
- In 1950 human remains dating back to the 1st century AD were found and were attributed precisely to St. Peter.
- St. Peter’s Holy Door is opened only every 25 years on the occasion of the jubilee.
- St. Peter’s Basilica is not the largest church in the world, but its size is astonishing: 187 m long and with an area of 15,000 square meters.
History of St. Peter's Basilica
- 61 A.D. Death and burial of St. Peter;
- 200 AD. Construction of the altar over the tomb of Peter;
- 324 AD. Constantine built the Basilica after making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire;
- 800 AD on Christmas night, Charlemagne is crowned Emperor at St. Peter’s;
- 1452 AD. Niccolo V plans the restoration of the Basilica;
- 1503 AD. Pope Julius II appoints Bramante as architect of the new basilica;
- 1506 A.D. Pope Julius II laid the foundation stone and began the work;
- 1514 AD. Raphael Sanzio becomes director of works;
- 1538 AD. Sangallo the Younger becomes director of the works;
- 1538 A.D. Michelangelo Buonarroti is appointed architect of St. Peter’s: He simplifies Bramante’s plan and designs the dome;
- 1593 AD. The dome of St. Peter’s is completed;
- 1605 AD. Carlo Maderno took over the project and expanded the structure and designed the facade of the basilica;
- 1524 AD. Gian Lorenzo Bernini added the final details such as the baldachin and the chair of St. Peter
- 1626 AD. Consecration of the new basilica.
- Today, St. Peter’s Basilica is the most important building in Christendom and is visited by millions of visitors every year.
St. Peter’s Basilica is famous for being the most important church in Christendom and the second largest in the world.
Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica is free but you may find lines with even two-hour waits. It is recommended to purchase skip-the-line tickets to avoid the queue.
St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums are both located in Vatican City but are different and separate buildings.
How to get to St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is located in Vatican City, in the center of Rome. It is very easy to reach by public transportation.
Metro: Line A, stops ‘Ottaviano – Vatican Museums’ or ‘Cipro’
Buses: 32, 34, 40, 46, 62, 64, 81, 98, 190, 590, 881, 916, 982, 990
Streetcar: 19Train: San Pietro
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