St. Peter’s Basilica
Saint Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church, is the center of Christianity. The imposing structure was built over a span of more than one hundred years by the greatest Italian architects of the era.
The church is built on Vatican Hill, across the Tiber river from the historic center of Rome. The location is highly symbolic: this was the site where Saint Peter, the chief apostle, died a martyr and where he was buried in 64 AD. St. Peter is considered the first pope, so it made perfect sense for the papacy to build the principal shrine of the Catholic church here.
Visitors on their way to the St. Peter’s Basilica pass along St. Peter’s Square, a grandiose elliptical esplanade created in the mid seventeenth century by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The square is bordered by massive colonnades that symbolize outstretched arms. Bernini and his assistants sculpted the 140 statues of saints that grace the balustrades on the colonnades. The square is decorated with fountains and an Egyptian obelisk that was transported to Rome in 37 AD.
The view of St. Peter’s Basilica from the square is unfortunately a bit disappointing; the result of the enlargement of the church carried out by Carlo Maderno, which partly obscures Michelangelo’s dome.
St. Peter’s is located in Vatican City, across the river Tiber, west of Rome’s center. Vatican City is completely surrounded by the city of Rome. Entrance to the basilica is free but make sure you are dressed properly since a very strict dress code is enforced.
Hours: St. Peter’s Basilica is open daily, Apr-Sep 7:00-19:00;
Treasury Museum: 9:00 – 18:15 (Apr – Sep) 9:00 – 17:15 p.m. (Oct – Mar)
Grottoes: 7:00-18:00 (Apr – Sep) 7:00-17:00 (Oct – Mar)
Cupola: 8:00 – 18:00 (Apr – Sep) 8:00 – 16:45 (Oct – Mar)
Scavi Office: weekdays 9:00 – 17:00
Sacristy (011) 39 06 6988 3712
Parish Office (011) 39 06 6988 5435
Vatican Switchboard (011) 39 06 6982
Climbing the Cupola
Hours 8:00 – 18:00 (Apr – Sep) 8:00 – 16:45 (Oct – Mar)
Cost 7 Euros for elevator, 6 Euros for stairs