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Visiting Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome

When visiting eternal city of Rome one of the must-do things is a visit to Saint Peter's Basilica - the largest church in the world and the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture.

Saint Peter's Basilica is one of the most beautiful buildings in Rome with a history 2000 years long. It is the Pope's principal church in the terms of use because most liturgies and ceremonies take place here due to its size and location within the Vatican City. This amazing church can host 20000 people at the same time. Saint Peter's Basilica is 190m long, the aisles are 58m wide, the nave is 45,50m high.

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This basilica is the home to one of Michelangelo's most famous masterpieces, the Pieta which can be seen once you enter (it is protected by bullet-proof glass). The interiors caracterized by huge mosaics, are sites of some of the most famous art works from all over the world. The central position of the basilica holds Baldacchino of St Peter's which is 29m high, made by Bernini.

Saint Peter is said to be entombed just underneath the church and other popes are also buried here. You can visit this area called the Necropolis but you must book long in advance as there is a limit to how many visitors they will allow.

Entrance to Saint Peter's Basilica

Long queues for Saint Peter's BasilicaLong queues for Saint Peter's Basilica

The entry to Saint Peter's Basilica is free, but the most of the time there are long queues of people waiting to enter. It is open every day from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. from April to September and from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. from October to March. 

The best way to beat the crowds while visiting Saint Peter's Basilica is to arrive as early as possible or to use fast track entry. Be sure to dress appropriately (covered knees and shoulders) or you will be turned away at the door.

To get the most of your visit consider renting an audio guide from the kiosk inside or taking one of guided tours. If you plan to visit all major Rome sights it may be convenient for you to purchase OMNIA Pass which allows you to skip the line when entering Saint Peter's Basilica.

The cupola of Saint Peter's Basilica

For stunning views of Saint Peter's Square and entire Rome you should climb the cupola of Saint Peter's Basilica. The beautiful cupola was projected by Michelangelo in 1546 and is 136 m high.

Visiting Saint Peter's Basilica cupola is possible every day from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. from April to September and from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from October to March. The entrance is in the portico of the Basilica. You have two options: 

  • climb all way on foot (551 steps)
  • take the lift and then climb the rest on foot (320 steps)

To reach the top of the cupola you need to climb the spiral staircase and narrow tunnels for about 15 minutes. Once at the top you will be rewarded with a unique views of Saint Peter's Square, Vatican Gardens and the city of Rome. From here you can take some amazing photos of Saint Peter's Square and the Vatican Gardens.

Note that this climb is not suitable for people with cardiac problems as well as those who suffer from vertigo or claustrophobia. 

How to reach Saint Peter's Basilica

One of the most popular sights of Rome, Saint Peter's Square with Basilica are situated north of the historic centre of Rome, just across the Tiber River. These sights can be easily reached from anywhere in Rome.

The easiest way to reach it would be by taking a metro line A which will drive you to Ottaviano - St. Pietro station, which is only 10 minutes walk from Saint Peter's Square. Another solution would be taking a train from Termini to San Pietro train station which is situated south of Vatican and situated only a short walk from Saint Peter's Square. 

There are also many Rome city buses that pass next to the Vatican. The buses 40 and 64 drive frequently between Termini Station and the Vatican via the city centre including the Piazza Venezia. Besides these two, there are also buses 62 and 81 as well as tram 19 which runs between Villa Borghese and Piazza Risorgimento (close to the Vatican).

For most people, walking is the most pleasant way of sightseeing of Rome as there is so much of interest around every corner of the city. Although Vatican City is just north of Rome's historic centre it's only 15-20 minute walk to Piazza Navona. You just need to take one of streets leading towards the Tiber River to reach Sant'Angelo Bridge, walk across the bridge until you reach Castel Sant'Angelo and continue walking to Via della Conciliazione.

Via della Conciliazione is a long straight avenue leading from Castel Saint'Angelo up to Saint Peter's Square. This is the main and by far the widest road into the Vatican from central Rome and is where all the hop on - hop off sightseeing buses stop.

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