Rome / Attractions / St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome

Visit the 'Basilica di San Pietro' in Vatican City

St. Peter’s Basilica Rome

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.

Info St. Peter’s Basilica & Vatican

Address Piazza San Pietro, Città del Vaticano
Metro Stop Ottaviano (Line A)
Tickets
  • A visit to St Peter's Basilica is free, but you should expect long queues of two hours. Important tip: If you want to avoid standing in line for two hours, go for the special skip-the-line tickets with audio guide. These can be booked online here or here. They are pricey (19.50 €), but you will have the convenience of not having to wait in the burning sun for several hours.
  • You also have the option to visit the dome in the Basilica using stairs or a lift (8 euros, arranged on site or with this guided tour).
  • Would you like a tour with (English) guide? You can book it here (only St Peter's Basilica) or here (also incl. Vatican museum).
  • More info about tickets for the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums.
  • Tip 1: Are you also using the hop-on-hop-off bus? In that case, this combined ticket will save you money.
  • Tip 2: The Rome Tourist Card is a combined ticket for all the tickets you need for your city break to Rome (includes Colosseum, Forum Romanum, St Peter's, hop-on-hop-off bus, Sistine Chapel). More info Rome Tourist Card.
Option 1 Skip-the-line Tickets Option 2 Skip-the-line Tickets
Opening hours Opening hours basilica
  • April to September 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
  • October to March 7:00 am - 6:30 pm
  • Because of the papal audience, the Basilica usually opens around 1 pm on Wednesdays
  • Closed on January 1st and 6th, Easter and during special occasions
Opening hours dome
  • April to September 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • October to March 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Opening hours crypt (with the papal tombs)
  • April to September 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • October to March 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
  • Closed on Sundays and (holy) holidays
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. Peter’s 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.

St. Peter’s Basilica RomeSt. Peter’s Basilica stock.adobe.com/ adisa
St. Peter’s Basilica Vatican CityVatican City stock.adobe.com/ a_medvedkov

Sightseeing in St. Peter's 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

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.

St. Peter’s BasilicaAltar of the Basilica of St. Peter stock.adobe.com/ Svetlana Day
tickets St. Peter’s BasilicaSwiss Guard in Vatican City stock.adobe.com/ puckillustrations

Necropolis

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. 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. This article will tell you all 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 visit or this tour that also includes the papal summer residence.
Visit St. Peter’s BasilicaView from Saint Peter's dome in Rome stock.adobe.com/ Bumble Dee
Basilica di San Pietro in VaticanoBasilica di San Pietro stock.adobe.com/ İhsan Gerçelman

Video: History of Vatican City

 


Where is St. Peter's Basilica in Rome?

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