St. Peter's Basilica

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The Majestic Architecture of St. Peter's Basilica

The world-famous St. Peter's Basilica took 120 years to complete and involved some of the most talented architects of its time. It's arguably the greatest achievement of late-Renaissance architecture – here are five highlights amongst its countless marvels.

  • St. Peter's Square

    1. St. Peter's Square

    The magnificent entrance to the Basilica consists of a gigantic square, featuring a 25-meter obelisk at the center, encircled by colossal Tuscan colonnades four columns deep.

  • The Facade

    2. The Facade

    The Basilica's facade, designed by Baroque architect Maderno, is 114 meters wide and 45 meters tall. Built entirely from travertine stone, it's quite simply breathtaking.

  • The Nave

    3. The Nave

    The opulent interiors, including Maderno's lavishly-decorated nave, are so immense that it can be hard to judge the building's proportions.

  • The Dome

    4. The Dome

    At 136 meters, Michelangelo's famous dome is the tallest dome in the world. It stands proud in Rome's skyline and offers a staggering panorama of the city.

  • Vatican Grottoes

    5. Vatican Grottoes

    Below the Basilica, there's a large network of tunnels housing the Vatican Grottoes. Many popes are buried here, including John Paul II and the first ever pope, St. Peter himself.

Planning Your Visit

  • Mind the Dress Code

    As a Catholic building, appropriate clothing is required to enter St. Peter's Basilica. Regardless of the high temperatures in Rome during the summer, shorts, bare shoulders and miniskirts are not allowed – the dress code is strictly enforced.

  • Arrive Early to Avoid the Lines

    The queues to enter St. Peter's Basilica can get extremely long. It's therefore a good idea to arrive early, especially at the height of summer when temperatures can be sweltering. From April to September, the basilica's opening hours are from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM, while from October to March, the basilica is open from 7:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Note that most mornings, the queues are already snaking around the square by 11:00 AM.

  • See the Pope

    Every Wednesday, the Pope holds a public audience on St. Peter’s Square, and in the Audience Hall during winter. The audience starts at 10:30 AM, but most visitors arrive earlier to score a good seat. Security opens between 8:00 AM and 8:30 AM.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Open daily, 7:00 AM-6:00 PM
    Wednesdays (Papal audience), 12:00 PM-6:00 PM
    Holiday hours may vary
  • Is it expensive?
    Ticket prices vary depending on group size.
  • Will I need a guide?
    Recommended!
  • How to get there
    Buses 64, 60, and 40 will get you to the Vatican City. Alternatively, take the red metro line to Cipro station.
  • Additional information

    • Bring a covering for your shoulders, and do not wear shorts or short skirts.

    • Use sunscreen and bring water for when you are waiting in line outside.

What people are saying about St. Peter's Basilica

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 17,453 reviews

Am Ende unseres Wochenaufenthaltes in Rom nach den vielen Besichtigungen nochmals die Stadt abzulaufen mit einem Thema und einem sehr belesenen und einem grossen Wissen gesegneten Guide, war eine Bereicherung und schöne Abrundung unserer Reise. Die Geschichte von Robert Langdon und irgendwie auch die Vielschichtigkeit von Rom so packend erzählt, dass wir fasziniert und mit unseren Füssen am Ende zufrieden ankamen. Ich habe noch nie zuvor eine so lebendige Tour erlebt und kann nur jedem raten, an dieser Tour teilzunehmen.

Our tour guide (Chiara) was the best in showing us around the Basilica. She had a good explanation and was super helpful. The Basilica in itself is a beauty to visit. I did however disliked the fact we could not visit the papal tombs. I did read the fine print, which stated that the papal tombs can be closed off by the Vatican, where the guide would show us more of the Basilica. Nevertheless I did not like the fact it was closed on short notice, making us unable to visit.

Perfect timing for the visit (the tour starts at 8am) when everything is still quiet and calm, as it gets much busier later in the day. This gives you unique chance to fully enjoy the beauty of the Basilica with its surrounding.

A real surprise, just amazing, something you need to see, you don’t have to be religious to visit, it’s just the architecture, the 120 years it took to build, the styles of design, just amazing

I guess we picked the perfect time to visit it. It wasn’t crowded and it felt like we reserved a private tour. The guide was very helpful and the chapel was breathtaking