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Visiting Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome

Find out tips on visiting this amazing Rome's sight - when to visit & entrance fees & guided tours

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.

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

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 Card which allows you to skip the line when entering Saint Peter's Basilica.

Book guided Rome tours

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 136m 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.

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

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