St. Peter's Basilica 3.8 rating

  Cultural Attractions

Towering over the skyline of the Vatican City, the Basilica of Saint Peter is one of the largest and most renowned churches in the world. Built in the 16th-17th century on the site where Saint Peter died and was buried in 64 AD, the church is a breathtaking Renaissance masterpiece that is regarded as one of the greatest constructions of its era. As one of the most-visited attractions in Rome, it can have impossibly long queues for admission. Book your Skip the Line tickets today for an expedited and hassle-free entry.

It was primarily designed by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The travertine facade on St Peter's Square is 115 metres wide and 45 metres high, featuring a central order of Corinthian columns surmounted by an architrave inscribed with the words 'IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT VII' (In honor of the Prince of Apostles, Paul V Borghese, a Roman Supreme Pontiff, in the year 1612, the seventh of his pontificate). The balustraded roof has 13 statues of Christ with John the Baptist and 11 Apostles except Saint Peter. The pilastered sections at the ends are surmounted by clocks held by angels. Behind the façade, the central dome soars to a height of 136.6 metres as the tallest dome in the world. The facade is preceded by statues of St. Peter and St. Paul at the ends.

The narthex behind the façade has a long barrel vault decorated with ornate stucco and gilt work that serves as a teaser for the awe-inspiring artwork inside. At the ends of the narthex are equestrian figures of Charlemagne (south) and Constantine the Great (north). 5 portals lead into the basilica, with the central Portal of Filaret having a bronze door by Antonio Averulino that belonged to the old basilica. It is flanked by Giacomo Manzù's Gate of Death (far left) named so as it is used for the funeral processions of the Popes, Luciano Minguzzi's Gate of Good and Evil, Venanzo Crocetti's Portal of the Sacraments, and Vico Consorti's Holy Door.

The gargantuan interiors are truly stupendous, with a whopping 45 altars and 11 chapels. There are 3 naves demarcated by pillars, covered by a coffered barrel-vaulted ceiling. The central nave is 90 metres long, 26 metres wide, and 45 meters high. The 3 main highlights of the Basilica are –

  • The enormous dome by Michelangelo and Giacomo della Porto which is a symbol of Vatican City. With an internal diameter of 41.47 metres, it is supported by 4 gigantic pillars with niches containing the statues of San Longino by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Saint Helena by Andrea Bolgi, Santa Veronica by Francesco Mochi, and Sant'Andrea by François Duquesnoy. The vaulting between the 16 ribs features mosaics of that are supported by four massive pillars. The triangular spaces where the pillars meet the dome are decorated with mosaics depicting scenes with Christ, the apostles, and busts of popes and saints. Light enters through the central lantern and the 16 large windows below the cornice. The base of the dome features the inscription 'TV ES PETRVS ET SVPER HANC PETRAM AEDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM. TIBI DABO CLAVES REGNI CAELORVM' (you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven). The base of the lantern has the inscription 'S. PETRI GLORIAE SIXTVS PP. V. A. M. D. XC. PONTIF. V.' (To the glory of St Peter, Sixtus V, pope, in the year 1590, the fifth of his pontificate). You can take an elevator or climb the stairway of 551 steps to the top of the dome for panoramic views over the Vatican, and St Peter's Square, framed by colonnades with an obelisk at the centre.
  • Bernini’s 29 metre high baldachin underneath the dome is one of the largest pieces of bronze in the world. It stands over the papal altar which marks the site of St Peter's grave. Four 20 metre tall Solomonic columns on marble plinths support the canopy, which has 4 life-size angels at the corners.
  • Michelangelo’s marble Pietà in the first chapel on the north aisle depicts the body of Jesus on Mary's lap after the Crucifixion. The noted Renaissance work balances the ideals of classical beauty with naturalism.

Explore the basilica to see the symbolic Chair of Saint Peter, Arnolfo di Cambio's bronze statue of Saint Peter Enthroned, tombs of the Popes, and other art works in the chapels. The left transept leads to the Museo Storico-Artistico, which showcases the treasury comprising historical ecclesiastical objects. The Vatican Grottoes beneath the basilica contain the tombs and sarcophagi of numerous popes, as well as columns from the original 4th century basilica.

About St. Peter's Basilica

 Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

 +39 06 69883229

St. Peter's Basilica and Nearby Attractions on Map

Nearby Attractions km / mile

Colosseum(0.9 km)
One of the 7 wonders of the medieval world, the Colosseum is perhaps the most famous landmark in Rome.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain(0.9 km)
Completed in 1762 to a design by Nicola Salvi, this spectacular Baroque fountain features a mythological sculptural composition of Neptune, god of the sea, flanked by two Tritons: one Triton labours to control a violent sea-horse, the other controls a pacified creature, both symbolising the dual nature of the world's oceans.

Piazza di Spagna

Piazza di Spagna(1.5 km)
The Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) is the most famous square in Rome.

Church of Sant'Ignazio di Loyola
Roma dal Cielo Terrazza delle Quadrighe
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore(1.4 km)
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major) is one of the 4 Papal major basilicas, built in the 5th century atop Esquiline Hill to honor Virgin Mary.

Roman Forum

Roman Forum(0.4 km)
Occupying the valley between the Palatine and the Capitoline Hill, the Roman Forum was the political, religious and commercial nucleus of ancient Rome.

Musei Capitolini

Musei Capitolini(0.1 km)

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