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St Peters Basilica

Listed under Churches & Abbeys in Rome, Italy.

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The most famous church in the world, St Peters is one of four great papal basilicas in Rome, and the place of pilgrimage for all good Catholics - the tomb of St Peter is beneath the high altar. Inside the Vatican City, the church, designed by Michealangelo and others in the 16th and early 17th century, is monumental in scale. It is reputed to be able to hold over 50,000 worshippers.

The time to visit is either at Easter, when the Pope speaks from the balcony, or duing the feast of St Peter and St Paul, when, if you are lucky enough to get in, you will see the Pope and all his cardinals arrayed in their purple and red finery performing centuries old rituals.

Other highlights include Michelangelo's Pietà, located immediately to the right of the entrance, behind bullet proof glass; marble looted form the Colosseum and bronze from the Pantheon; and Bernini's magnificent square and fountains outside. As well as the numerous tombs of Popes who are buried here.

Written by  James Dunford Wood.

Other expert and press reviews

“To morning mass at St Peter’s”

The bells were calling to us as we hurried along to early morning mass at St Peter’s. We moved through security and then up the steps, passing one priest after another whose walk, by contrast, was slow and measured. As we crowded around the g… Read more...

Written by  heather on her travels. Continue reading on heatheronhertravels

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Giftshop at St. Peter's Basilica, please

Need email information for the Giftshop at St. Peter's Basilica.

2 Replies

I think they only have a phone number: 06 698 83731


The View from the Dome of St Peter's

I visited the dome of St Peter’s one afternoon and had to queue for about half an hour to take the lift to the bottom of the dome. From there you go through a door and up a ramp into the base of the dome where you are close to the wonderful mosaics and can look straight down into the basilica below or up at the rich decoration inside.

The mosaics looked so fresh that they could have been created yesterday. There were coats of arms above the doorways and oversize cherubs all round the perimeter.

Then we went through another door and started climbing the 320 steps that bring you out at the top of the dome. The steps wound round and round and as you got higher they got narrower and the roof sloped inwards, forcing you to lean at an angle.

When we got to the top it was very crowded. Every space was taken up by a person trying to get a photo with a view of the piazza behind them but without ten other tourists in the shot. If you feel claustrophobic, this experience may not be for you.

Around the other side, you get a great view into the Pope’s back garden, which for most people is the only view you’ll get. Unfortunately, there are only limited guided tours and you have to book by e-mail, fax or telephone at least a week in advance. It’s a shame that it’s not more accessible as it looked beautiful down there.

When you’ve seen enough of the 360 degree views you descend to an outdoor terrace at the base of the dome where you can get close to the back of Bernini’s huge statues of the saints which line the front of the Basilica and round the colonade. Apparently there are 162 of them, but I noticed that they hadn’t bothered to carve many of them at the back. There’s also a place to buy coffee and a gift shop with lots of religious souvenirs.

Then we descended in the lift again to the piazza - it’s definitely worth going up to see those amazing mosaics and the views of Rome.

1 Reply

Nice review!

Absolutely huge!

Words cant quite express the scale of this place. Make sure you climb to the top of the dome, you get an amazing view (although maybe not if you are a bit fat or scared of heights).

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