Basilica di San Pietro - Saint Peter Basilica, Rome

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  • Basilica di San Pietro - Saint Peter Basilica
    by brendareed
  • Basilica di San Pietro - Saint Peter Basilica
    by brendareed
  • Basilica di San Pietro - Saint Peter Basilica
    by brendareed
  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo

    Amazing and Enormous

    by Donna_in_India Updated Apr 17, 2012

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    View from top of the Basilica
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    We stopped for a really good pizza and cappuccino outside the Vatican museum before walking to San Pietro’s Basilica (St. Peter’s Basilica). As you enter the Piazza San Pietro it’s easy to imagine how it must be when thousands and thousands of worshipper’s gather to hear one of the Pope’s sermons, which he delivers from a balcony above. After a(nother) security check, we entered the church. It is really amazing - the altars, the ceiling, the stained glass windows – and it is enormous!

    We walked around for quite a while before getting on a very, very long line to make the climb to the top of the Basilica. It turned out that there was one very slow ticket man for hundreds and hundreds of people on line – in addition to one elevator that took about 10 people at a time up to the first level. After taking the elevator up the equivalent of 230 steps, we now had to climb 320 steps. The stairs were very narrow (claustrophobic!) and many portions wound around and around like in a lighthouse. Before the last part of the climb we reached a walkway around the top of the dome that was inside the church. It was pretty cool to look down on the people in the church who looked like ants! Fortunately we had a nice clear day and our reward for the long, hard climb was a spectacular view of Rome. The climb is a must do!

    Seeing the Pope: The easiest way to get tickets just days before the Wednesday General Audience with the Holy Father is to go to St. Peter's Square, find the Bronze Doors to the Apostolic Palace, and request them from the Swiss Guards.

    On Sundays at noon, the pope usually (if he's in town) appears at the second window from the right of the Apostolic Palace, to pray the Angelus and bless the crowd in the Square. Benedict XVI has continued this tradition, no ticket required.

    Hours:

    St. Peter's Basilica is open daily, Apr-Sep 7:00-19:00; Oct-Mar 7:00-18:00
    Treasury Museum: 9:00 - 18:15 (Apr - Sep) 9:00 - 17:15 p.m. (Oct - Mar)
    Grottoes: 7:00-18:00 (Apr - Sep) 7:00-17:00 (Oct - Mar)
    Cupola: 8:00 - 18:00 (Apr - Sep) 8:00 - 16:45 (Oct - Mar)

    Cost:
    Basilica (including grottoes) is free.
    Stairs to the dome €7; elevator to the dome €6.

    Dress code: The Dress Code is strictly enforced at St. Peter's Basilica. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts. This applies to both men and women. Even if you get through security, you will be turned away by the attendants at the door.

    Photography: Permitted throughout (except in special necropolis tour).

    All visitor information is correct as of this writing.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    On This Rock, I Will Build My Church...

    by goodfish Updated May 15, 2013

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    The crown jewel of the Roman Catholic faith, the Basilica of St. Peter is the second-largest church in the world and certainly among the most beautiful. The interior is positively vast - so big that the monuments, statuary and other embellishments that grace the aisles and chapels don't appear to be as enormous as they are until you stand next to them.

    This is another of Rome's treasures much too important to cover in a paragraph or two. The shrine of the martyred St. Peter and his tomb in the necropolis, as well as tombs of many of the popes, draw Catholic pilgrims from around the world. For the rest of us, San Pietro's collection of art and architecture captivate and move you with their powerful, elaborate or deeply emotional beauty: Bernini's glorious baldacchino and Throne of St. Peter, Michelangelo's Pieta and dome, and many other priceless mosaics, marbles and bronzes.

    The basilica is also one of Rome's best bargains as it's free except for limited, pre-booked tours to the necropolis, elevator service partway to the dome, and entrance to the treasury. Here are a few good tidbits to know before you go:

    • You will need to pass through an airport-like security check with the same restrictions on knives, scissors, etc. The line starts to the right side of the basilica as you are facing it. The line can be VERY long but it moves fairly quickly. I recommend getting here just before the opening hour or late in the day for shortest waits.

    • No shorts, miniskirts or bare shoulders allowed, women OR men. Although some tourists claim to have gotten in with uncovered knees, most others have not so don't risk it. Also avoid wearing t-shirts with verbiage or images that might be considered risque or offensive.

    • Baby strollers are not allowed

    • There's no entrance to the Vatican Museums from here - although many tours of the museums end up in the basilica

    • Photography is allowed but no flash or tripods

    • Although it's a major tourist destination, San Pietro is, first, a church. Enough said. You will probably experience a few annoying visitors abusing the no-flash rules, talking loudly, leaning on stuff they shouldn't and generally being disrespectful. Sad.

    • Make a potty stop before you go. There are some restrooms about - mostly outside the church - but they're generally pretty hard to find. There are some available on the dome level if you make the climb up.

    You may hire a guide but you don't really need one; this website has very good, very complete information which may be downloaded before you go (we did):

    http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/index.htm

    Audioguides are also available. The Vatican has a website in 6 languages but I can never get the English tab to work so the second one here is a better resource for current, basic visiting info:

    http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_pietro/index_it.htm

    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/luoghi-di-culto-di-interesse-storico-artistico/chiese-cattoliche/basilica-di-san-pietro-in-vaticano.html

    Rick Steves also offers a downloadable tour for MP3 players:

    http://www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/0602/rome_downloads.htm

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  • icunme's Profile Photo

    Saint Peter's - Best views

    by icunme Written Sep 17, 2006

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    Vatican by night from Castel Sant 'Angelo

    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).

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  • fishandchips's Profile Photo

    St Peter's Bascilica

    by fishandchips Updated Apr 5, 2007

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    St Peter's

    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.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Basilica di San Pietro - Cleaning.

    by breughel Updated May 17, 2013

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    San Pietro - Cleaning.
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    A visit to San Pietro is always a great moment of cultural, spiritual and artistical life (you may line up my words in a different way depending on what comes first to your mind).

    So much has been written about the head basilica of Christianity that I don't see what to add to the many comments. Therefore I just made a travelogue with some photos from before the scaffolds.

    Oh yes, I liked the modern floor cleaning machine.

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  • Lacristina's Profile Photo

    There's Only One Painting in St. Peters.....

    by Lacristina Updated Oct 17, 2004

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    The Altar of the Lie

    Quite a nice painting, wouldn’t you say? And huge! Like many of the others you see in St. Peter’s?

    Surprise! It’s not a painting at all. It’s a MOSAIC!

    You’ll swear it can’t be. You’ve gotten up close. You think you would have noticed. You’ll go back and look at it after you’ve read this, and you’ll still swear it’s a painting.

    But it’s true. If you catch the light at just the right angle, you’ll see the tiny tesserae.

    In fact, every “painting” you see in St. Peter's, save one, is a mosaic.

    (The only oil, by Pietro da Cortona, is in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, reserved for “only those who wish to pray may enter.” But perhaps you should pray, as you will see also the incredible gilded bronze tabernacle of Bernini, built after the famous Tempietto of Bramante. You can find the original life-sized Bramante Tempietto in Trastevere.)

    This particular mosaic is on the left aisle, closest to the transcept. It is called the “Altar of the Lie” for the scene it depicts from Acts 5:1-11, a copy of a painting by Cristoforo Roncalli, known as Pomarancio (the original painting now hangs in Santa Maria degli Angeli, the Michelangelo-designed church made from part of the Diocletian Baths – found near the train station.)

    The story involves Ananias and his wife Sapphira who sold a piece of property. It was traditional and expected among early Christians not to own any property but to give it to the church community. But Ananias lied to St. Peter about how much he received for the property, in order to keep some for himself, and was struck dead. You can see some men burying him in a vignette on the top right of the painting. Later, his wife (who was in on the scam) came and told the same story to St. Peter (not knowing what had happened to her husband) and she was struck dead, too.

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  • jlanza29's Profile Photo

    Make a game plan to visit the Basilica

    by jlanza29 Updated Jan 22, 2010

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    This photo was taken at 7:00 a.m.

    Ok, first thing is first....make a plan to see St. Peter's Basilica !!!!! We didn't and we had to rush thru it !!! and we spent 4 hrs in it, and felt rushed !!!! Another tip would be to buy a book specifically on the Vatican or St. Peter's !!!! The Basilica opens at 7:00 am every day. remeber you are in an active place of worship so dress accordingly. Admission is free but you must go thru secruity to enter the Basilica. Once inside you will be astound to see the size of it. If you get here early as we did make a right turn as soon as you get in to see one of the most beautiful masterpiece ever created by human hands, Michaelangelo's ..... Pieta.... After that start along and make your way all around and then to the crypt of the pope's, and as you'll see there are huge lines everywhere, but the one to go to the top of the dome was none existing when we first got there, but the time we were done with Basilica it was more than 5 blocks long to get to the top, that's why I say make a game plan..... One of the world's truely great sites !!!!

    As for St. Peter's square it's a great place to sit and people see !!!!!

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  • Peccavi's Profile Photo

    St. Peters in the morning

    by Peccavi Updated May 16, 2006

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    The morning sun in St. Peters
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    Everybody want to see the St. Peters while in Rome. And you really MUST see this! But it is a big difference in seeing the St.Perets and "feeling" the St. Peters. Go there before 8 AM (it opens at 7 AM), enter the bassilica while the morning sun is lightening up the altar, and you will feel it. If you don`t get the feeling then, wait there until a morning mass starts (between 8AM and 9AM), and you will. At this time you are almost alone in the bassilica. You can move around as you want and there are no guards telling you to move on, or to go in a spesific direction. One hour later the whole Church seems transformed into a big over crowded museum. The mystic feeling of the place is blown away by huge crowds og ppl., guides with sticks in the air trying to get their groups attention, trucks moving about on the floor moving materials around for some preperations. If you feel you havent seen enough in the 1-2 hours you have in the bassilica almost alone, its better to come back early the next day for the rest.

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  • Marpessa's Profile Photo

    San Pietro

    by Marpessa Updated Aug 22, 2006

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    Vatican City, with San Pietro
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    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.

    Opening Hours
    April - Septemper: 7am - 7pm
    October - March: 7am - 6pm

    Admission
    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

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  • mindcrime's Profile Photo

    St Peter's

    by mindcrime Written Mar 20, 2011

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    St Peter���s basilica
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    Although the highlight of our visit to Vatican was the museum we spend some time at St Peter’s basilica too.

    It is located at piazza San Pietro which was decorated with a big Christmas tree a huge manger. There were hundreds of people waiting in line to get into the cathedral (there’s a delay because of the security check in, hopefully we went in from the museum) but the square has a capacity of thousands of people.

    The square is circled by 2 long row of colossal colonnades and if you go to a specific spot near the fountains the 2 rows of the columns will look like one!
    At the center of the square you can see another Egyptian obelisk (41meters high).

    St Peter’s basilica is impressive for one simple reason, it is huge(187meters long with 11 chapels, 50 altars and hundrerds of statues!). Although we knew about it we were surprised of the interior (pic 2), amazing place with a capacity of 60000 people! Believe or not you can spend hours there, I don’t want to offend anyone but I had a feeling that I was inside a huge museum and not a religious place, it’s hard to feel that anyway on a regular day when it’s full of happy, noisy tourists that take pictures but of course some other people go there to pray (pic 3).

    The cathedral was built upon the relics of another (big) cathedral that was on the same spot until the 16th century. It’s better to have a guide book with you so to know what you are looking because there are many things that worth to be seen in the cathedral, especially some top class items made by people like Raphael, Bernini and Michelangelo. Hard to mention everything here but of course make sure you wont miss the Pieta (pic 4) the amazing renaissance sculpture (made by Michelangelo in 1499) which is behind a bullet proof glass!

    You can also go up the Cuppola and have a nice view over the city. You can take the lift or climb the 500 steps!

    The basilica opens daily at 7.00am and there’s no entrance fee (you have to pay only for the Cupolla).
    Go early on Sunday morning for the mass. For Wednesday Papal audience you have to book your (free) ticket online.

    The last thing we did at Vatican was a visit under the Basilica where the crypt is located to check St.Peter’s tomb but also numerous burial rooms including Popes (pic 5).

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  • sue_stone's Profile Photo

    View from St Peters Basilica

    by sue_stone Updated Nov 7, 2004

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    view from the top of St Peters Basilica
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    For fabulous views over Rome, you can climb to the top of the dome of St Peters Basilica.

    This was the highlight of my visit to the Basilica.

    You have the option of taking the elevator or the stairs, the stairs being a bit cheaper.

    If you take the elevator, it brings you to the bottom of the dome from where you still need to climb a long and mostly spiral staircase to reach the top of the dome.

    If you take the stairs all the way, good luck! We did - it helped to justify all the gelato we had been eating!!

    From the top there is a magnificent view of Rome and of Piazza San Pietro.

    Well worth the climb!

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  • tere1's Profile Photo

    St. Peter's Basilic

    by tere1 Written Aug 18, 2006

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    St. Peter's basilic exterior
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    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.

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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Interior Highlights

    by von.otter Updated Dec 8, 2009

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    St Peter���s, the Nave, May 2007
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    “The building of St. Peter’s surpasses all powers of description. It appears to me like some great work of nature, a forest, a mass of rocks, or something similar; for I never can realize the idea that it is the work of man. You strive to distinguish the ceiling as little as the canopy of heaven. You lose your way in St. Peter’s; you take a walk in it, and ramble till you are quite tired; when divine service is performed and chanted there, you are not aware of it till you come quite close. The angels in the Baptistery are enormous giants, the doves, colossal birds of prey; you lose all sense of measurement with the eye, or proportion; and yet who does not feel his heart expand when standing under the dome and gazing up at it?”
    — Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

    Standing at the central entry door looking down the nave of Basilica di San Pietro the view does take on a force-of-nature quality. And gazing up into the underside of the dome makes one feel so small.

    The Basilica has 450 statues, 500 columns and 50 altars; it has a capacity to hold 60,000 people. It is the second basilica to stand on the site. Emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity in AD 316, built the first St. Peter’s after making Christianity the state religion. It was almost as large as the present church. By the 16th century more than a thousand years of wear and tear had taken their toll; the old church was crumbling.

    In 1506 the architect Donato Bramante, who was engaged by Pope Julius II to design a new basilica, unveiled his plan. Over the years the task of executing the plan passed to a number of artists/architects, including Raphael and Michelangelo, all of whom made changes along the way. The basilica was not finished until 1614.

    Begin your tour of the Basilica with the Chapel of the Pietà (see photo #4), the first chapel on the right aisle. This is the finest sculpture the church has to offer. The Pietà by Michelangelo, which he carved when he was only 24 years of age, represents the Madonna’s sorrow, holding Her dead Son, and Her acceptance of the will of God. It is the masterpiece of Michelangelo’s youth. Because rumors had reached Michelangelo that some admirers were attributing his work to another artist, this is his only signed work. Michelangelo chiseled his name on the sash across the Madonna’s chest.

    As you face the High Altar, on the right and against one of the four immense piers supporting the dome, is the noble sculpture in bronze of St. Peter Enthroned (see photo #5). This is the work of the 13th century Florentine sculptor, Arnolfo di Cambio. Our Saint’s feet have been worn smooth by the faithful kissing or touching the bronze to bring them buona fortuna.

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  • ruki's Profile Photo

    View from the cupola

    by ruki Written Dec 18, 2005

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    If you want to see Rome the best way is to go on cupola of Basilica San Pietro. Rome from cupola looks amazing. It is cost about 8 EURO for using elevator, or if you want to go up by stairs, it is much chipper and it is about 3-4 EURO. From upstairs, hole Rome is on your hand. Enjoy!!!!

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  • rita_simoes's Profile Photo

    Piazza San Pietro e Basilica di San Pietro

    by rita_simoes Updated Oct 14, 2007

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    4 more images

    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!

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