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

4.5 / 5

based on 30,885 reviews

The basilica is breathtaking and Daniele V was a very knowledgeable and entertaining guide. From St. Peter’s square to the knave with an amazing collection of colossal statues and beautiful mosaics to the roof and the dome, it was well worth hearing about the confluence of the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church, as well as the part Benito Mussolini played in the establishment of the Vatican as a sovereign state.

Yamile fue una excelente guia! Me encanto esta experiencia. Yamile lo hizo muy ameno y compartio varios detalles súper interesantes sobre la basílica. Definitivamente recomiendo esta experiencia al 100%!

A great tour - added so much more to the experience with background on the artists involved. Really brought it to life.

Great experience with small group. Very qualified and informative tour guide.

Difficult but the view from the top was great and very knowledgeable guide.