All information about visiting St Peter's Basilica in Rome. The 'Basilica di San Pietro' is the papal residency in Vatican City. Read how you can visit the Basilica with the papal tombs.
Tours & Tickets St. Peter’s Basilica
|Address||Piazza San Pietro, Città del Vaticano|
|Metro||Stop Ottaviano (Line A)|
|Hours||Opening hours basilica
|Dresscode||Please wear appropriate clothing that covers the shoulders and knees.|
Since 1929, Vatican City has formed the spiritual centre of the Catholic church and it is also where the pope resides. Vatican City is an independent state measuring just 44 hectares and has its own security service, the ‘Swiss Guard’. This article is about visiting St. Peter's Basilica. If you want to visit the Sistine Chapel, read this article about the Sistine Chapel visit.
St. Peter’s Basilica
The ‘Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano’ was built between 1506 and 1626 on the site of a church dating from the time of emperor Constantine the Great (324). According to tradition, this church contained the grave of Peter. Because building St. Peters Basilica took so long, several designers worked on it, including Bramante, Raphael, Antonio del Sangallo, Michelangelo, and Carlo Maderno. Many of the decorations in the Basilica are the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. One of the most impressive aspects of the Basilica are its dimensions – 136 metres high and 186x123 metres wide.
Sightseeing in St Peters Basilica
- A main attraction in St Peter's is ‘La Pieta’. This 1499 artwork is the only work signed by Michelangelo and can be found in the first side chapel to the right. It is a statue of Mary holding the body of Jesus.
- The gigantic bronze baldachin by Bernini from 1633, placed over where Peter is believed to be buried. One story says that the cladding was made with bronze that came from the ceiling of the Pantheon.
- Another attraction is the bronze statue of Peter. The foot has worn away as a result of pilgrims kissing it. This statue stands at the base of one of four large columns that support the dome.
- The ’Cathedra di San Pietro’ from 1655 in the choir. This bronze-clad wooden chair has to be carried by four people. Tradition has it that Peter once sat on it.
- The tomb of Alexander VII Chigi (left nave) was also designed by Bernini. A gilded figure with an hourglass represents the passing of time and death that comes for us all.
- Using a separate entrance you can also visit the crypts with the 148 tombs (catacombs) of the popes.
Dome of St. Peter
In addition, you can choose to climb the dome. 550 steps lead to a wonderful view of Rome and the Vatican. After passing security, you will find a ticket window on the right side of the Basilica. Here you can buy tickets for the dome (8 euros). You can choose to walk all the steps, or go part of the way with a lift for an additional 2 euros.
There are excavations of the old necropolis located under the Vatican. Every day, only a select group of 250 people are allowed to visit these excavations (‘scavi’) of the Roman burial site with the grave of the apostle Peter – Saint Peter. Not suitable for people who get claustrophobic. More information about this tour can be found here.
St Peter's Square
The large square in the Vatican is known primarily from the ‘Urbi et Orbi’ speeches by the Pope at Easter and Christmas. Weather permitting, and if he is in Rome, a service is held here every Wednesday by the Pope. If you would like to attend this audience of the Pope on Wednesday, you will find on this website more information about reservations. The enormous square was designed in the 17th century by Bernini after being commissioned by Pope Alexander VII. The buildings around the elliptical shape symbolise the church's arms, welcoming the faithful into the Kingdom of Heaven. Tip: Are you visiting the square on a Sunday? At noon, the pope will give his blessing from the window of his study.
Other sights in Vatican City
- The Vatican museums with the Sistine Chapel. Read more about the Vatican Museums where you'll find all information about the museums of the Vatican and the Cappella Sistina.
- The Vatican gardens: Behind the Vatican museums, there are 23 hectares of gardens, making up over 50 percent of the area of Vatican City. It is now possible to visit these gardens in a small, open bus. Read more about this tour.
Video: History of Vatican City
Where is St. Peter's Basilica in Rome?
FAQ Saint Peters Church Rome
Do I have to buy tickets for St. Peter's Basilica?
St. Peter's Basilica is free to visit. The queues in front of the basilica are huge, so you will be queued for more than an hour. You can avoid this by buying special skip the line tickets for St. Peter's Basilica. You will also need to purchase an entrance ticket to visit the dome.
Can I also visit the Sistine Chapel?
The Sistine Chapel is not located in St. Peter's Basilica, but in the adjacent Vatican Museums. Visiting this museum with the Sistine Chapel requires the purchase of tickets. The museum often has huge queues and can certainly be full in high season.
Can I book a guided tour?
On this website can your read more about booking guided tours.
Is there a dress code in St. Peter's Basilica?
Please wear appropriate clothing that covers the shoulders and knees.