Saint Peter' s basilica is located on the site where Saint Peter was buried between 64 and 68 A. D. The current church was built from 1506 to 1626 due to the bad state of the previous one. Several artists worked on this church between these centuries; as Bramante, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is a huge church; (218 per 133.30 meters) and full of beautiful works of art. The basilica has 45 altars and 11 chapels.
One of its highlights is Michelangelo' s Pietà. It is located in the first chapel on the right. He sculpted it when he was 25. Another main sight is Bernini' s canopy. It is situated over the papal altar.
Once you visited the church you can climb to the top of the dome (cupola). It was designed by Michelangelo in 1547 but it was finished by his pupil; Giacomo della Porta, after Michelangelo' s death. From the top of the dome you can see a great landscape of Rome.
Before entering the basilica you see a very large square. It was designed by Bernini and built between 1656 and 1667. It is a elliptical esplanade bordered by four rows of columns topped with 96 statues of saints.
This church is located in Città del Vaticano. It is a small country inside Rome. There is no need to have a passport to go there.
Although I made a separate page for Vatican City to reflect the fact that, technically, I had made it to another country, this independent state is very much a part of Rome. Vatican City is located on the right bank of the Tiber River, just northwest of Rome's city center, and while it is still surrounded by fortified walls, these no longer serve any kind of barrier purposes, so you don't need to bring a passport or go through any kind of customs. In fact, you can easily get there on foot or by metro. The one real obstacle when visiting the Vatican is that it needs a bit of planification. The only place visitors have easy access to is St Peter's Square; anything else requires that you either book in advance or spend a lot of time waiting in line. For more details, check out my Vatican City page!
Wow!!! what an amazing place! the artwork inside is absolutely beautiful, stunning. There is so much to see in here. we spent a good couple of hours wandering around, admiring the sculptures and the artwork that was in there. Even the floor is amazing. There are many different areas for worship, and services are performed throughout the day which you are free to attend, no ticket required. What i would say is please show some respect. This is at the end of the day a place of worship. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't film or take photographs of services when they are on - please show some respect. It is quite bad they have to have 'bouncers' telling people not to take photographs whilst a service is taking place - to me that is common sense!!
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.
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)
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.
We went in December and went with Context tours which was highly recommended by a cousin of ours who happens to be an art historian and she and her husband had been very pleased with the company.
We couldn't have been happier.
Our guide was a theology and art history doctor and took his time to explain all the hidden gems within the paintings and sculptures throughout the Vatican.
Additionally, as we requested a private tour of a maximum of 6 people it is also the only tour which goes into the Vatican at 8:00am - a full 1 1/2 - 2 hours before anyone else.
There are pictures posted on our Vatican pages so you can see just how empty we had the major part of the tour during the first part of it as well as being well ahead of many of the crowds afterwards.
We are so happy we had a guide and it truly added to an experience which we may not be able to repeat again.
Although a bit pricier than many others at Euro 85/pp, we feel it was one of our highlights.
Their website which we booked through was:
We spend a lot of time here, after having waited in line we entered in the vatican's museum, it contains such a wealth of statues, busts and others that we were near a overdose, but finally we were able to admire the beauty of the SISTINE CHAPEL.
Then we went to ST PETER'S BASILICA , from the dome a beautiful view of ST PETER'S square.
On December 25 Christmas Day ,all is closed, may be a boring day...? not at all, curiosity bring us back to ST PETER'S square, despite the rain the crowd is there , believers or as we simply curious are there to attend the POPE' s blessing.
Be careful , transports doesn't work on 25th décember between 1.30 pm and 4.30 p.m
Their is so much to see and do here! My wife and I spent a complete day in this area and probably only scratched the surface. St. Peters, the cuppola (the dome), Vatican Museum and on and on. I encourage you to climb up Michelangelo's dome. On your way down you can take a rest, go to the bathroom and get a drink on the roof of St. Peters! This is an area I had not heard of in my research of Rome. If one is looking at St. Peters Basilica from St. Peters Square you would be standing behind Bernini's statues of Christ and the apostles that adorn the top of the basilica. The view of Rome is beautiful from here, I believe it is the highest spot in all of Rome, since no high-rises are allowed. Taking pictures in the Sistine Chapel is forbidden! Guards are constantly yelling "NO PHOTO!" I really don't see the harm in taking pictures without flash, the frescoes are very high up and picture quality is questionable at any rate. We heard that one should go in the afternoon as opposed to morning as the crowds are thinner. We visited in the afternoon and had no trouble with the crowded Chapel.
Prior to coming to Rome I knew what I wanted to see: the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and Saint Peter’s Basilica. The only thing I didn’t know was what differs these attractions, are they all in the same place? The older I am the more I know, so for all of these confused travelers I prepared a little explanation.
The Vatican and the Holy See
First of all you have to remember that the Vatican is a separate country, indeed the smallest in the world (about 0.2 square miles). Although there are people living there, none of them can feel too comfortable; they will never become permanent residents! Like every country, the Vatican has its own post office, bank and even its own butcher shop. Although you can’t actually go inside and buy the same beef that the Pope eats (unless you have special permission) you can send a postcard from the Vatican Post Office which is available to everyone (a lot of Romans say it works better than the Italian one!).
The Holy See isn’t the same thing as the Vatican. The Vatican was established as a country only in 1929 whereas the Holy See has been in existence almost from the beginning of Christianity. The Holy See, “Santa Sede”, maintains the international relations and represents the Catholic Church on a worldwide arena. Let’s say colloquially that the Holy See acts like the government of the Church based within the territory of the Vatican.
The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Museums are some of the biggest in the world and although a lot of people say: “We would like to see the Vatican Museums and then the Sistine Chapel”, I’ll tell you: “Don’t worry, you will see both, because it’s not possible to reach the Sistine Chapel without passing through the Museums”. One important thing: Remember about the dress code! You have to have your knees and shoulders covered otherwise you risk not being allowed to enter the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica. Water bottles are allowed and strongly recommended as in the summer time the Museums get really hot! Also I’d recommend you going on a guided tour otherwise you might miss a lot. I used Rome Illuminated Tours. My guide Alex led me through the maze of corridors, galleries and courtyards bringing history to life with her wicked stories.
The Basilica of Saint Peter
While going to the Museums and Sistine Chapel means paying the entrance fee (15 euro adults; 8 students), going to the Basilica is free and accessible through Saint Peter’s Square. If you visit the Museums you can go to the Basilica using the right-side exit from the Sistine Chapel which will guarantee you skipping the line. Otherwise you might spend a while waiting to go inside. It is absolutely necessary to see this huge church dedicated to the first pope, Saint Peter. Geniuses like Michelangelo, Bramante, Bernini, and Fontana worked on it for 120 years, so need I say more to convince you?
Just came back from Rome. Had a ball. Actually we came across something brilliant and we want to share it. Jimmy our tour guide on the vatican tour was just amazing so much so we bought him a bottle of whiskey and got him to give us a private tour the next day.
We will be definitely using him next time we come and want our friends who are going there in a couple of weeks to use them. He has great passion for art and makes his tours very entertaining. He works for Roman Empire Tours - http://www.romanempiretours.com/
The 1929 Lateran Treaty established the Vatican as a sovereign state in its own right, not merely part of Italy. The Pope and Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini found this to be best for both the church and the state. It was Mussolini's one positive achievement.
The Basilica of St Peter's has the largest dome in Christendom (St Paul's in London is next, the the Cathedral in Florence after that). It was built in the 16th century, on the site of St Peter's martyrdom. Michelangelo began the work, which was completed by Bernini, who also designed the Colonnade in front of St Peter's. Domenico Fontana oversaw the placement of the Egyptian obelisk in the center of the piazza.
The famed Sistine Chapel is inside the building to the right of St Peter's. Visitors cannot help being awe-struck by this magnificent work, Michelangelo's most famous. Of course, they don't let you photograph it.
The Vatican's famed Chiaramonti Museum is filled with priceless art treasures, rare manuscripts, and historical antiques. It was founded by Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti (1800-1823). Next to it is the Vatican Library.
A state within a state, the Vatican is centre of the Catholic world. It inherited this importance from the Roman Empire, which had made Rome, its capital, as the seat of the Empire's new religion. For visitors, the Vatican contains numerous sites of interest, including the Basilica of St Peter's, built in the 16th century on the shrine of St Peter's, as well as the Vatican Museum and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Also, Castel Sant'Angelo is within the Vatican's borders. The attached photos are from November 1999, my first visit to the Vatican.
Entering the Vatican City is awe-inspiring. Words again cannot do it justice and neither do the pictures I took. Wander through the square, look at the columns and statues, and wonder at the beauty of Vatican City.
We waited in line about an hour to get into St. Peter's Basilica in vain. They stopped letting people in before we were anywhere close to the front of the line. See my Vatican Museum tip for the best way into St. Peter's.
I recommend marielexoteria's VT Rome page for tips on getting a papal audience and the Vatican City excavation tour. I would have loved to do both of those, but tickets are hard to get and you must be in the know. Next time!
The Vatican Museum, Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica are a full day in and of themselves. Don't skimp on time here.