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.

Other Sightseeing Options in St. Peter's Basilica

Want to discover all there is to do in St. Peter's Basilica? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about St. Peter's Basilica

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 17,482 reviews

The tour with Chiara absolutely amazing. We had a small group. No lines at the Basilica or Museum with the 8am tour. Definitely wear good walking shoes. Our guide Chiara (when in Rome Tours) was such a great guide. Very interacting and so very knowledgeable, funny and great energy. Personalized our tour so we could get to the most important stops in an efficient manner. Made sure everyone’s needs were met along the way. She offered to take photos of each person/couple at the best spots! She was interested in each person/couple. Asked where we were going next so she could recommend activities/restaurants. Guiseppi and Maria from Florida

Our tour guide was most welcoming, warm, and so cordial. She was also quite knowledgeable so it was all in all worthwhile time spent in Rome. I would certainly recommend!

Guide was very good, Staff at reception desk were exceptionally helpful

Super guide ! Très intéressante et qui va à l’essentielle

The tour we took was excellent. The guide was fantastic.