The Cupola of the Saint Peter's Basilica is a masterpiece done by Michaelangleo Buonarotti of which you can see it's grandeur in the middle of the Basilica and even close up if you happen to get the Saint Peter Dome tour or which you can ride the elevator to the level of the frescoes for 7 euros (round trip) via an elevator (or 5 euros if just taking the stairs (320 steps) to view it and then walk for another 300 steps to the roof of the dome to get panoramic views of Rome. the entrance for admission to the dome is near the entrance to the Sistine Chapel.
there is a dozen side chapels on both sides of Saint Peter's Basilica dedicated to the famous Saints of the Roman Catholic Church and the Previous Popes who became Saints such as Pope John Paul II where pilgrims can pray for their intercession.
Saint Peter's Basilica is the second most famous Attraction in Vatican City and is the most famous Roman Catholic Church in the World. This Church was remodeled in November of 1626 over the decaying previous Saint Peter's Basilicas that was made in the fourth century as by the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine The Great. The Saint Peter's Basilca is where the remains of Saint Peter (buried under the altar), the First Apostle, was buried and where many of the early Christian martrys and Previous Pope lie buried as this place was formerly the Circus of Nero, which where the site of early Christian Persecutions and Crucifixions. The Basilica is one of the 4 major Basilicas of Rome *the Cathdedral of Rome is St; John The Lateran Cathedral) but it eclipses all the churches and basilicas of Rome due to it's significance and history. This famous Basilica was designed by famous Rennaissane Artists such as Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The basilica is cruciform in shape, with an elongated nave in the Latin cross and several side chapels deicated to the saints (and previous popes who became saints as well) and various Worls of Art such as Michaelangelo's Pieta and the famous Dome, designed by Giacomo della Porta and Fontana.
7.00 am to 7.00 pm, April to September and from 7.00 am to 600 pm, October to March.
admission is free
After we did the Sistine Chapel, we went to the cupola (lift AND 320 steps). The queue for this was much shorter by now (1600). The stairs are up the sides of the dome (inside of course), but the walls slope, like you would expect the dome to. Our son was thinking he would be hanging over some edge somewhere and was complaining about how he was scared. We pressed on. There are 2-3 vantage points, the first is inside the dome just off the lift - one can see down into the church and can really see how large the mosaics are in the dome. The second is from the roof of the main church - good pictures of the outside of the dome, etc. The third is from the cupola (after 320 stairs). Fabulous views of Rome.
You know, some hours after Benedictus XVI announcement to retire, lightning hit the dome and we have all seen these magnificent photos of the event. The same happens occasionally, I was not so lucky (no rain at all) to catch similar. You and me, we both can decide if it was only an random event or was if done to celebrate this holy announcement. And further, let's trust to our own religion whether nature, the God or gods were behind this phenomenon.
My low level photo is from inside.
St Peter's Basilica is easily one of the most famous places of worship in the world. When you see it on TV you normally will see the piazza in front of it packed with people. I got there very early in the morning and since i was with a tour group we didn't have to stand in the lines, which seemed to move pretty quickly anyway.
The Dome of St Peter's was designed of Antonio Bramante and the great Michelangelo Buonarotti later adapted the original design. The idea was to bring the Renaissance grandeur of Florence to Rome. It would be a cross between the Pantheon in Rome and the Duomo of Florence.
The Dome of St Peter's is the tallest dome in the world, it rises 136.57 meters (448 feet) from floor to the external cross. The tour I was on didn't go up the Dome. If you wish to go up to the top it costs 7 euro to ride the elevator or 5 euro if you want to climb the 323 stairs (all marble, bring good shoes!)
If your idea of fun is climbing up a claustrophobic, winding staircase of some 500-odd steps, along with a few hundred other tourists - and inside a structure designed by the artist of artists of the renaissance age (Michelangelo, of course) - then by all means have a go at St Peter's dome. The reward of grand views of the city - and of the 'world' - are well worth the effort and the vertigo.
My top favorite views are that of St Peter's Square and the Vatican's manicured gardens. The dome itself is a sight to behold, especially at dusk when the lighting provides a dramatic effect against the clear, blue autumn sky.
While climbing the dome (cupola) of St Peter's is a great experience, it would be even be more enriching if you get a chance to view the interior of the cupola within the basilica. The best chance of getting up close to it would be before your climb to the dome (after the brief elevator ride).
After getting off the elevator, don't rush to the staircase, but take a few moments to absorb the astonishing beauty of the cupola from within - and look down - the main altar. It's one of those moments where the cliche "thank god for religion" is most true - and real.
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.
This is a beautiful building which can really only be seen by the general public from the top of St Peter's Basilica. The Administration of the Vatican City State is conducted from the Governorate Palace. The Commission deals with all legislation within the State. It is made up of cardinals appointed by the Pope. Their term of office is for five years. All decisions made by the commission however, cannot be finally passed without the consent of the Pope.
If you're with someone who doesn't want to climb the 320 steps to the top of the dome, they can still take the elevator to the roof, enjoy the view from the gallery inside the dome looking down into the basilica, and then hang out at the gift shop and coffee bar, while the others make the climb. If you're overly energetic, you can take the stairs that winds around the elevator to reach the roof.
As you exit the interior gallery at the base of the dome, you have the option of going up the dome or down to the roof level. If you make the climb, you'll pass several small windows that provide a view. At the top you receive the views so often seen in photographs. See if you can spot Rome's other great dome, the Pantheon.
Back on the roof, you have access to restrooms, water fountains, a gift shop and a new coffee bar. Take a walk to the front of the basilica to look into the Square and observe the huge statues on the facade. When you're ready to depart, there is again the option of elevator or stairs. Along the walls of the stairs are inscriptions listing some famous people who visited St. Peter's Basilica.
At the entrance to the basilica, there is a sign that directs you to the far right of the portico (past the Holy Door) and to the kiosk for the elevator. This area can sometimes be entered from the stairs in the baggage check room at the lower right of the basilica.
The cost to take the elevator to the roof is 7 euros. It is 6 euros to walk up the stairs around the elevator. I highly recommend the elevator, as there is nothing to see along the stairs, and it's a strenuous walk.
But at the other exit elevator, consider taking the stairs down, as this area contains marble plaques of all the famous who have visited the dome over the years.
Hours 8:00 - 18:00 (Apr - Sep) 8:00 - 16:45 (Oct - Mar)
Cost 7 Euros for elevator, 6 Euros for stairs
The Dome that we see today at St. Peter's Basilica was redesigned by Michelangelo in the middle of the 16th century. Unfortunately the Dome was not completed when he passed away in 1564. The Dome was finally completed by Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana in the late 16th century. The Dome reaches a total height of approximately 120 meters high which is also one of the tallest domes in the world. It has actually dominated the skyline of Rome for several centuries! The internal diameter of the Dome is approximately 40 meters.
The Dome is covered with mosaics with stucco ornaments and is supported by piers with a perimeter of approximately 70 meters. The iconic Dome is a landmark of the city. It certainly dominates the skyline of Vatican City and the city of Rome. Visitors can go up to the Dome and be rewarded with a commanding and spectacular view of Vatican City and the city of Rome.
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.
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