All information about visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The ‘Basilica di San Pietro’ is the papal residence in the Vatican City. Read about how to visit the basilica with the papal tombs.
Info & St. Peter Basilica tickets
|address||Piazza San Pietro, Città del Vaticano|
|metro||Stop at Ottaviano (Line A)|
|hours||Opening times basilica
Opening times dome
Opening times of the crypt (with the papal tombs)
Our favorite experiences in Trastevere & Rome here.
|Dress code||Please wear suitable clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.|
Vatican City has been the spiritual center of the Catholic Church since 1929 and the Pope also lives here. The Vatican City is an independent state with an area of only 44 hectares and has its own security service, the Swiss Guard. This article is about visits St. Peter’s Basilica.
St. Peter’s Basilica
The “Basilica of San Pietro in the Vatican” was built between 1506 and 1626 on the site of a church from the time of Emperor Constantine the Great (324). According to tradition, this church contained Peter’s tomb. Because it took so long to build St. Peter’s Basilica, several designers worked on it, including Bramante, Raphael, Antonio del Sangallo, Michelangelo and Carlo Maderno.
Many of the decorations in the basilica are by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. One of the most impressive aspects of the basilica is its dimensions – 136 meters high and 186 x 123 meters wide.
Visit to St. Peter’s Basilica
- A main attraction in St. Peter is’La Pieta‘. This work of art from 1499 is the only work signed by Michelangelo and is located in the first side chapel on the right. It is a statue of Mary that holds the body of Jesus.
- The gigantic bronze canopy by Bernini from 1633 was placed where Peter is believed to be buried. One story goes that the panel was made of bronze that came from the ceiling of the Pantheon.
- Another attraction is the bronze statue of Peter. The foot is worn out from pilgrims kissing it. This statue stands at the foot of one of four large pillars that support the dome.
- The ‘Cathedra di San Pietro’ from 1655 in the choir. This bronze-clad wooden chair must be carried by four people. According to tradition, Peter sat on it once.
- The tomb of Alexander VII Chigi (left nave) was also designed by Bernini. A gilded figure with an hourglass represents the passage of time and death that is coming for us all.
- You can also visit the crypts with the 148 tombs (catacombs) of the Popes via a separate entrance.
St. Peter’s dome
You can also climb the dome. 550 steps lead to a magnificent view of Rome and the Vatican. After going through 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 to take part of the way with an elevator for an additional 2 euros.
There are excavations of the old necropolis under the Vatican. Only a selected group of 250 people are allowed to visit these excavations (‘scavi’) of the Roman burial site with the tomb of the Apostle Peter – St. Peter every day. Not suitable for people who get claustrophobic.
St. Peter’s Square
The large square in the Vatican is best known from the Pope’s speeches “Urbi et Orbi” at Easter and Christmas. If the weather permits and he is in Rome, a service is held here by the Pope every Wednesday. If you want to attend this papal audience on Wednesday, please refer to this website for more information on reservations. The huge square was designed in the 17th century by Bernini on behalf of Pope Alexander VII. The buildings around the elliptical shape symbolize the arms of the church and welcome the believers to 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 attractions in the Vatican City
- The Vatican Museums with the Sistine Chapel. In this article, you will learn all about the museums of the Vatican and the Cappella Sistina.
- The Vatican Gardens: Behind the Vatican Museums are 23 hectares of gardens that make up over 50 percent of the area of the Vatican City. It is now possible to visit these gardens in a small, open top bus.
Video: History of the Vatican City
Where is St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome?
St. Peter’s Basilica is free to visit. The queues in front of the basilica are huge, leaving you in line for more than an hour. You can avoid this by buying special tickets for St. Peter’s Basilica. You also need to buy an entrance ticket to visit the dome.
The Sistine Chapel is not located in St. Peter’s Basilica, but in the adjacent Vatican Museums. Tickets must be purchased to visit this museum with the Sistine Chapel. The museum often has large queues and can certainly be full in high season.
Please wear suitable clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.