Even if you’ve never been on an Italian vacation before, first time visitors to Rome will always be able to identify it as they look out across the city for the first time. This Italian Renaissance style church, once the largest church ever built, is nestled in the heart of the Vatican City and is said to hold a unique position in Italy, Christianity and indeed the world.
The church, the most renowned example of Renaissance architecture and one of the largest churches in the world, was designed and worked on by infamous names such as Bramante, Michelangelo, Maderno and Bernini. Although it is not the cathedral of Rome or the Vatican it is a focal point of the Catholic Church since the remains of St. Peter the first pope are buried here and many more Popes are buried beneath the Basilica in the grottoes.
Saint Peters Basilica, particularly the dome, the square outside and the façade and balcony of the building are instantly recognisable as it is here that the Pope speaks to audiences – sometimes thousands of people - at key times of the Christian calendar. The images of which are beamed around the world.
The Basilica of Saint Peter took 120 years to complete and is built on the site of an earlier church from the 4th century. It is here you will also find the beautiful masterpiece of Michelangelo’s Pietà – created when he was just 25 years old and the only work he ever signed.
The Dome was also the work of Michelangelo. Based on the designs of the Duomo in Florence, you can climb 551 steps to the top from where you can see a breath-taking view of the Vatican City and Rome. There’s also a slightly shorter route – with an elevator!
Bernini’s baldachin which stands over the altar – the site of St Peter’s remains - is also a memorable art work inside the Basilica. It is created using bronze from the Pantheon.
It is one of the highlights of any Italian holiday and the phrase ‘seeing is believing’ really rings true here. One thing to remember before you visit is that you must always cover your arms and legs in order to get into the Basilica. No short trousers, short skirts or short sleeves are allowed and your body should be covered. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes, too!
To get the very best experience from Saint Peter’s Basilica, the majority of experts advise taking a tour since there is just so much to see. At Avventure Belissime, the Italian vacation and Italian tours experts – all of our tours which take in the Basilica offer skip the line tickets, which mean you can avoid the large queues that inevitably build up in and around the Vatican’s ticketed or managed areas. A licensed guide leads each of our tours and the tour groups are generally quite small so you can benefit from the guide’s knowledge and attention. To join us on a tour of Saint Peter’s Basilica, check out our:
Semi Private Tours of the Vatican Rome
Private Vatican and Sistine Chapel Tour
Private Vatican and Ancient Rome Tour
Also, if you are looking for some travel inspiration, check out our other blog posts at tours-italy.com/blog/ It’s a great read about all things about all things Italian and Italian holidays!