When you enter the Basilica, you don't know quite where to look. To the left, to the right, up or down haha. There is just so much to take in and absorb. You really need a few hours in the Basilica alone.
From the inside, the Cupola of St Peter's Basilica is reaaaaaaaaally high up and not all that clear to see form the floor. You view it in a lot more detail at the first level, and it is amazing. Hard to fathom the artists creating this masterpiece in days gone by sans modern technology! It really is amazing.
This dome is the largest dome on earth. Following this is Saint Paul's in London. The sheer beauty of it is amazing.
Just realised my title rhymes :-)
The vast, vast dome of St Peter's Basilica has a great secret - you can climb up inside it to the very top. From the top, 135m up, you are presented with tremendous aerial views of St Peter's Square, and the rest of Rome's rooftops.
It is one of the most fun things I have ever done. Such a super historic building and there you are, squeezing your way between the inner and outer skin of Michaelangelo's dome, up first a lift and then 300 steps. Really, the space gets smaller and smaller towards the top!
The price worked out at about £3 but whatever the price is today, I can guarantee it is worth the climb. Unless you suffer from claustrophobia, scared of heights etc. (sure there must be some spiders up there too :-)
If you're doesn't want to climb more than 300 steps to the top of the dome, you can take the elevator to the roof. If you're overly energetic, you can take the stairs that winds around the elevator to reach the roof.
From the cupola there is a great view to all Rome.
Climbing the Cupola
Hours 8:00 - 18:00 (Apr - Sep) 8:00 - 16:45 (Oct - Mar)
Cost 7 Euros for elevator, 6 Euros for stairs
There are two choices when it comes to getting to the top of the Cupola or Dome of St Peter's.
You can get a lift/elevator up to the roof level and climb the remaining steps to the top of the Dome or you can climb all the steps from the ground up (312 in all). Whichever way you choose to go the effort expended will be deemed well worth it. The views are spectacular.
You can see clear out to the sea and to the Alban Hills, Frascati and the Sabbine Mountains. Closer to hand of course are the rooftops of Rome laid out like a carpet for all to see.
Unless you are claustrofobic (really necessary) you have to climb the Dome of the St. Peter. Nowhere in Rome you can have a more beautiful view over the city. But really: you shouldn´t do it when you are claustrofobic, because the stairs to the top are really narrow!
When you are in Vatican, there are many must-see's and must-do's. Going to the top of the Cuppola is one of them. You have two options to go up : You can pay 5 Euros to use the stairs and climb up; or you pay 7 Euros to take the lift upto a certain level and then climb up by the stairs. Definitely it is not worth saving 2 Euros unless you want to become a pilgrim and you need to put some suffering flavour in the process. The only disadvantage of the lift is the long queues. The exit of Vatican Museum directly connects to the lift queue and you may get an advantage if you first visit Vatican Museum, then take the lift to Cuppola and finally visit St Peter's Basilica. When you are up, you can have a 360 view of Vatican and Rome, really amazing!!! You can stay as much as you want to take pictures and enjoy the panaromic view. Watching St Peter's Square from the Cuppola is one of my favorites.
It may take a while to get up there but it's worth the while as the views over Rome are spectacular. You have the option of taking the elevator or the stairs, the stairs being a bit cheaper so you might as well take the elevator!
This balcony going round the cupola allows you to admire the beautiful decorations and the magnificence of the inside of the cupola in a close up. I liked the play of light entering the church from the top.
The cupola viewed from the roof level of Basilica looks less imposing than when viewed from St Peter Square, where it towers over the huge facade of the church and doubles its height. Or is it only my impression? If you're not comfortable with climbing a narrow staircase (see next tip) it's better to turn back here, you can still enjoy the view of the Piazza from behind the huge figures of the Apostles decorating the facade.
The St. Peter's Square and the Basilica are a must of course when in Vatican. You can go by foot or take a lift. I suggest a lift here, as you will soon need your feet.
Many go up to the Basilica's highest round to see the church from upwards - dozens of meters high; it looks great. Also nice wall paintings inside.
But don't leave it here - go to the outer part; you see interesting statues surrounding the whole Basilica. But then - note the very small and worn-out sign stating "Cupola". It means the highest place you can go - but no lift/elevator this time available. You have more than 300 steps ahead - but it's worth it. It is very narrow, so that two persons hardly can meet.
Once you are up, you can really see the whole Vatican, the hills of Rome, the whole St. Peter's Square; it is beautiful.
The way back made my feet aching....I was lucky there was the lift for the lower part.
You have to buy some entrance tickets to these places (depending on whether you go by foot or lift) but they are not expensive.