St Peter's - San Pietro: Amazing and Enormous

San Pietro
We stopped for a really good pizza and cappuccino outside the Vatican museum before walking to San Pietro’s Basilica (St. Peter’s Basilica). As you enter the Piazza San Pietro it’s easy to imagine how it must be when thousands and thousands of worshipper’s gather to hear one of the Pope’s sermons, which he delivers from a balcony above. After a(nother) security check, we entered the church. It is really amazing - the altars, the ceiling, the stained glass windows – and it is enormous!

We walked around for quite a while before getting on a very, very long line to make the climb to the top of the Basilica. It turned out that there was one very slow ticket man for hundreds and hundreds of people on line – in addition to one elevator that took about 10 people at a time up to the first level. After taking the elevator up the equivalent of 230 steps, we now had to climb 320 steps. The stairs were very narrow (claustrophobic!) and many portions wound around and around like in a lighthouse. Before the last part of the climb we reached a walkway around the top of the dome that was inside the church. It was pretty cool to look down on the people in the church who looked like ants! Fortunately we had a nice clear day and our reward for the long, hard climb was a spectacular view of Rome. The climb is a must do!

Seeing the Pope: The easiest way to get tickets just days before the Wednesday General Audience with the Holy Father is to go to St. Peter's Square, find the Bronze Doors to the Apostolic Palace, and request them from the Swiss Guards.

On Sundays at noon, the pope usually (if he's in town) appears at the second window from the right of the Apostolic Palace, to pray the Angelus and bless the crowd in the Square. Benedict XVI has continued this tradition, no ticket required.

Basilica (including the sacristy and treasury): Oct-Mar daily 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.; Apr-Sept daily 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m..

Grottoes: Oct-March daily 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Apr-Sep daily 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Dome Oct-Mar daily 8am-4:45pm; Apr-Sept daily 8am-6pm

Basilica (including grottoes) is free.
Stairs to the dome €4; elevator to the dome €5.
Treasury 4 €.

Dress code: No bare shoulders or knees (for both men and women).

Photography: Permitted throughout (except in special necropolis tour).

All visitor information is correct as of this writing.

  • Address: Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City
  • Phone: 06-69881662




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