Saint Peter Basilica in Vatican is one of the holiest catholic temples, as well as one of the biggest churches in the whole world. It’s also the place where you can see the Pope at any time of the year. The construction of the current basilica building started back in 1506 year after the demolishing of the old construction and ended in 1626 year. Projected by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo Buonarti, Carlo Maderno and Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, Saint Peter Basilica is one of the most famous temples from the typical Renaissance culture. The church is named by one of the twelve Jesus Christ’s students. Saint Peter is also a significant founder of the general Catholic Church. Executed in Rome, he’s been linked with a popular legendary according to which Saint Peter’s grave is right under the temple altar. The basilica has 800 colonies, 390 enormous statues and 45 altars in total. Inside the building you can see several impressive pieces of art. The church is with a capacity for 20 000 people, while its dome is 136 meters high. Speaking of which, the dome is Saint Peter Basilica’s top amazing part. Don’t miss to reach the edge of the dome where you can expect an exciting view of the homonymous Saint Peter square.
Things to see
It’s the first place you will appear once you enter the basilica. There are five doors that can take you to the main church: The door of the dead, The door of good and evil, the Holy Door, Filarete’s door. The Holy door is usually the most interesting one to the visitors, probably, because it’s opened only once in every 25 years, on Christmas.
Saint Peter’s Bronze Statue
Built back in 18th century, it’s actually a part of the old church construction. The saint is sculptured with keys in one hand and blessing with the other one. According to the legend, this statue has wonder-working skills and many worshipers touch it closely in order to be always healthy and wealthy.
La Pieta Sculpture
Michelangelo’s sculpture shows Maria holding the dead Christ’s body in natural sizes. While creating it, the artist, by the way, had been only 24-years old, and his contemporaries did not believe the sculpture was this young sculptor’s masterpiece. Mad about this fact, Michelangelo engraved his own name on the sculpture. That’s how La Pieta has been still the only one piece of art signed personally by Michelangelo.
It’s a set of four colonies and each of them has angel statues with a cupola on the top. The entire set is 29 meters high. It was made by Jean Lorenzo Bernini who had been working on this masterpiece for 11 years. The baldachin stands above the pope altar, which is located right over Saint Peter’s grave.
Saint Peter’s treasures exhibition
Here you can see church ornaments, statues, pope mitres, prince’s or king’s gifts, as well as one impressive collection of different pieces of art.
It’s right under the basilica. Here the vaults of many popes, as well as kings and queens from 10th century are placed. The monuments of Pavel VI (1978) and Pope Joan Pavel II (2005) are also inside the crypt. As a matter of fact, shooting photographs here is not allowed. Plus – you are obliged to keep silence in the crypt. It has its own working time, so please, check it out in advance before a visit.
This must be the most impressive part of the whole basilica construction. Designed by Michelangelo, it was, though, finished after Michelangelo’s death by Giacomo de la Porta, who had prolonged the construction a bit. At the edges there are two-meter letters combined in the following text in evangelic style: “…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. … I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven …”. You can reach the dome top on feet only (there are 551 steps) or to use the elevator and then, to climb 320 steps. No matter what alternative you’ll prefer, when you reach the top, you will definitely enjoy the fantastic view of Saint Peter’s square.
What should I know before visiting Saint Peter Basilica?
- The basilica is with 100% free of charge entrance. However, please know that you will have to wait for a long time on the queue if you want to see it from the inside. If you don’t want to wait on the queue you can get a ticket “Skip-the-line”.
- The basilica is opened every single day.
- Decent dress code is a must. Men should wear long pants (shorts are not allowed) and to cover their shoulders. The same goes for the women. If you are with a skirt, make sure it’s at least with a knee length.
- Before entering you will pass a check that’s almost the same as the check at the airport.
- I strongly recommend you to book a guide or to at least have audio guide in order to orient in the giant basilica easily, plus – to get the chance to learn more interesting facts about the building history.
- The access to the dome top, though, requires a ticket. Check out its working time and plan a couple of hours for this adventure.
- Shooting photos in the basilica is not allowed.
- If you want to visit the exhibition “Saint Peter’s treasures” or the crypt under the basilica, a ticket is required.
- Basilica tour
- Basilica + crypt tour
- Basilica + dome tour
- Basilica + “Saint Peter’s treasures” exhibition tour
- Basilica + Vatican museums and gardens tour
- For groups and families
- For worshipers
- For children between 6 and 18 years old
- For students and school students
- For students from seminaries and religious schools
The basilica is accessible for people with disabilities. There’s a separate entrance for them, as well as a route specially tailored for people with mobility problems accompanied by their companions. It’s necessary, though, to bring your personal document verifying the disability %.