I definitely think you cannot make a trip to Rome without a stop at St. Peter's. This has to be the most beautiful church we saw in our trip, all the gorgeous carvings, magnificient statues, the side chapels themselves look like beautiful churches on their own.
The Pieta is absolutely breathtaking; I don't understand how human hands can create such artwork, but it would be a sin to be in Rome and not see it.
I was so moved to see so many people still kneeling and crying around John Paul II's tomb; that is how much effect he had. But also to be next to what is supposed to be the burial spot of our first Pope is mind boggling.
Do not be intimidated if there is a long line to enter. You do have to go through security (but it is free to enter). There was a line that reached to the back of the square when we arrived, but it didn't take long at all to get in. Just watch out for the guards -- they are a little scary, with no humor to them whatsoever...
a visit to rome would not be complete with out seeing st. peter's basilica and vatican city. the original basilica was built on the site of the martyrdom of st. peter and was called basilica beato petro apostolo. the construction of the basilica was ordered by emperor constantine and was completed in 340AD. pope julius II ordered the construction of a new basilica in 1506 and it was completed in 1665. most of the great architects and artists of the roman renaissance period made contributions to this magnificent building. st. peter's is one of the most ornate christian churches in the world. to take in all of the attractions and museums of vatican city you need to alocate a full day.
As soon as you enter this square, you are immediately struck by it's beauty and grandeur. And also by the hundreds of tourists in line to enter the basilica. It's quite difficult for it to be a religious experience.
You can visit the basilica for free. It is beautiful and huge, in my opinion, a little too much (I prefer more cosy ones). Be sure to see the Pietà of Michelangelo, at the entrance to your right, and the magnificent 'baldacchino', right in the center of the dome. You can spend hours just looking at all the statues and paintings decorating the walls!
Be prepared for a jaw dropping amazing experience, i have seen many things but the beauty and devotion that has gone into this beautiful structure is amazing.after the popes address we went inside and was lucky enough to have mass and communion in a main alter area taken by 3 cardinals in latin with a choir...amazing
Many people ask me where they can go to in Rome to get away from their fellow tourists. My answer is always climb up the hill to visit the tiny, perfect, church of San Pietro in Montorio. It is semi-hidden in the courtyard of the Spanish School at Rome, but the building is always open. It was built by Donato Bramante in about 1502, to mark the supposed spot of the martyrdom of St Paul the apostle. You will probably have the place to yourself to examine and enjoy.
A catholic wonder of the world, framed by beautiful St. Peters square. Though it is debatable whether St. Peter is the biggest church in the world, it is certainly the most important in regard of its history, elaborate architecture (contributed by Michelangelo and Bernini) and the presence of the pope. Built on the supposed grave of the apostle Peter, it was started in 1506 and finished in 1626. Do not miss the viewing platform of St. Peters - marvelous view on the city and St. Peters square.
St Peter was allegedly buried here in A.D. 64 near the site of his execution (at Circus of Nero, where he was, in theory, crucified). In 324 Constantine, after his battle field epiphany, commissioned a basilica to be built over St Peter's tomb. This was the starting point of what you visit today. The present basilica was mostly completed in the 1500s and 1600s and is predominantly High Renaissance and baroque. The inside of the church is massive with work by the great artists: Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Maderno. A piece of the original cross of Christ and the rag that Mary wiped the blood off Christ's brow are also apparently located here behind doors above you in the middle of the church.
If you go down to the Vatican grottoes you can see the tombs of the popes plus, behind a wall of glass, is what's assumed to be the tomb of St. Peter himself. To go even farther down, to the necropolis vaticana, the area around St. Peter's tomb, you must apply in advance at the Ufficio Scavi (tel. 06-69885318). For 10euros , you'll get a guided tour of the tombs that were excavated in the 1940s, about 7 metres beneath the church floor.
St Peter's is prided (one of the 7 deadly sins?) as being the biggest church in the world. The floor is marked with how big some of the other more notable churches around the world compare to St Peter's incl St Paul's (London) & Notre Dame (Paris) which both fall well short of the massiveness of St Peter's.
Be warned - you cannot enter here wearing shorts or a short skirt. The guards also usually require upper arms to be covered. No matter how hot it is outside this strict dress code is always enforced.
Another icon... Is there no end to them in Rome! :)
The home of the Roman catholic faith: the world's tallest dome, designed by Michelangelo, at 132.5 metres high: 120 years in the building, consecrated by Pope Urban VIII on 18 November 1626, replacing the original church which stood on the same site since 349AD.
It's huge, it's extraordinary, it's stunning.
The Basilica of St. Peter is in the heart of the Vatican City, an independent sovereign state on the right bank of the Tiber river, in the centre of Rome.
The Vatican State is the smallest State in the world, and what remains of temporal dominions of the Church, which were annexed to Italy at the end of 1800's with the unification of the country.
The Basilica as we see it today, with its ribbed dome stands impressively in its square which seems to welcome all the pilgrims of the world in the embrace of the Mother Church. It was designed by the most famous architects and geniuses of the Renaissance and Baroque time.
The Basilica stands on the foundations of the Constantinian basilica, that stood for over a thousand years on a sacred area of Pagan-Christians mausoleums. St. Peter's Square with its famous colonnade which represents one of the most brilliant ideas of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is 320 meters wide with a central ellipsis of 240 meters and is surrounded by 4 rows of 284 columns and 88 pilasters. The balustrade above the columns is decorated with 140 statues of Saints. Below, a huge stairway of three flights flanked by the statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. In the center of the square there are two great fountains and an obelisk.
The façade of the Basilica -14.69 mt. wide and 47.3 mt. high - is made of travertine of Tivoli. It features a unique structure of Corinthian columns and frames a broad central portico with two arcades on either side (the one on the left leads to the City of the Vatican);
Inside, the Basilica is 186 m long, the main nave is 46 m in height and the height of the dome is 119 m. Under the dome is the papal altar, with the famous canopy by Bernini rising over it.
The sumptuousness of the interior is breathtaking: 45 altars, 11 chapels, around 10 thousand square metres of mosaics and many other masterpieces, such as the “Pietà” by Michelangelo.
The tombs of several popes can befound under St. Peters Church.
a different kind of view - something I spied while on the Context Rome "Imperial Rome" tour. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk. I tend to read a lot prior to traveling so it was so interesting to pull it all together on the walk - I pelt the poor tour guide with tons of questions!!
Michelangelo's design of the Dome was NOT the final one - he started it but it was finished by two others - Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana.
In the same area where the basilica now stands there was once a circus built by Nero. It was probably in this stadium that St.Peter and other Christians were martyred between 64 and 67D. The body of the saint was buried in an anonymous grave next to the wall of the circus. In 160 AD the stadium was abandoned and a small monument was erected on the grave. In 315 Constantine ordered the construction of a basilica on the site of St. Peters tomb. This was the first basilica and it was consecrated in 326.
A favorite topic among locals is "Where is the best view of Rome?" We have been directed to a few very special sites. This is the Vatican from the top terrace of Castel Sant 'Angelo - be sure to go on a clear night. Another extraordinary panaroma of Rome can be seen from Gianicolo Hill (Off the Beaten Path tips).
I went to the Vatican City twice and have admired the basilica on both ocassion with its huge and very impressive architecture. Michaelangelo who designed the Dome did an incredible job as it became one of the largest in the world. It was Wednesday when we first visited the church. We were fortunate enough that Pope Benedict held mass in the Square in honour of Pope John Paul II and attended by thousands of people from around the world. Our second visit to the church was in the early afternoon of the next day, Thursday, and again there were too many people waiting for the Pope to address the audience. There was a stage just beside the Basilica where Pope Benedict XVI speak before the thousands of youth from around the world to celebrate the 21st Anniversary of World Youth Day. The coincidence was overwhelming.
If you are visiting Rome for the first time, Vatican City especially the St. Peter Basilica is a 'must see'. You can inquire for a FREE ninety-minute tour from the information desk to the right as you enter the portico of the basilica.
Just be aware of what you are wearing when you visit the basilica. Proper dress code is strictly enforced. Don't take chances, dress appropriately.
San Pietro in Vaticano is amazing. I have never seen a place (church or otherwise) like this before. The architecture is astounding! I don't think my jaw has ever dropped so fast as when I stepped into San Pietro. The enormous hall, the columns, mosaics, the gilded bronze canopy (Baldacchino), the magnificent cupola (dome), the marble design and Michelangelo's The Pieta! It's incredible! With such beautiful architectural designs, sculptures and other art pieces I felt like I was walking in the most oppulent place on earth (and I probably was!).
And now for a bit of history...
Since the 2nd Century there has been a shrine of some kind on this site (for Saint Peter - who is believed to be buried beneath this structure). By 349 AD, after an order from the Roman emperor Constantine, the first basilica stood on this site. However by the 15th Century the basilica was in need of restoration. For almost the whole of the 16th Century (and into the 17th Century) the basilica was being rebuilt and restored by the most famous artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The cupola of San Pietro was designed by Michelangelo (although he did not live to see it finished as he died in 1564). The Baldacchino was created by Bernini. Other artists work in the basilica are by: Giotto, Alessandro Algardi, Filippo Barigioni and Arfnolfo di Cambio.
April - Septemper: 7am - 7pm
October - March: 7am - 6pm
Free. But there are charges for if you want to go up the Cupola or into the Treasury
For more pictures of San Pietro take a look at my travelogue: Inside San Pietro
This great building is the center of christianity. The opulence of the building's interior bears testimony to the wealth of the catholic church in the 16th century.
The building itself is truly impressive. The largest church in the world, it has a 218 meter long nave. The basilica's dome, designed by Michelangelo is the largest dome in the world .
The interior, which includes 45 altars, is decorated by many famous artists. Some of the most important works in the church are the Pietà by Michelangelo, the papal altar by Bernini, the Throne of St. Peter - also by Bernini - and the Monument to the Stuarts by Canova.
The opulent interior can be visited daily for free although a strict dress code is advisable.