Visiting The Queen Of The Basilicas In Vatican City

Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
Vatican City

Located in Vatican City, St. Peter's Basilica, known as the "Queen of the Basilicas," is a prime example of Renaissance architecture and one of the most beautiful churches ever constructed. Millions of Catholic pilgrims and tourists from all over the world visit it each year.

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St. Peter's Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a world-renowned architectural, cultural, and historical monument designed by legendary Italian art geniuses Bernini, Bramante, Michelangelo, and Raphael. The Tomb of St. Peter, the burial place of Jesus Christ's apostle beneath St. Peter's Basilica, has been an important historical and religious site since the first century.

Vatican City has always captivated me as the world's smallest country, and I've long wished to visit it. Isn't it amazing when your dreams come true? Honestly, I found the Vatican's Basilica to be more like a splendid art museum than a church – there are so many masterpieces by world-famous artists. Visiting the Vatican was an unforgettable experience, and seeing this magnificent building was the cherry on top. If you're planning a trip to Rome or Italy, don't miss out on Vatican City and the Basilica.

St. Peter's Basilica in Photos

Vatican City
Entrance to the Basilica's elevator

Interior of the Basilica of St. Peter
The Basilica's interior

St. Peter's Basilica
The Basilica's interior details

St. Peter's Basilica
Bernini's statue of St. Longinus

St. Peter's Basilica
Mosaic work representing The Punishment of the Couple Ananias and Saphira; 1727

St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Altar, built over St. Peter's tomb, with St. Peter's Chair in the background

St. Peter's Basilica
The Dome

Roof of the Basilica of St. Peter
On the Basilica's roof

St. Peter's Square
View of Rome from St. Peter's Basilica's Dome

History of St. Peter's Basilica

The Basilica, built between the 16th and 17th centuries on Saint Peter's burial site, dominates St. Peter's Square. It took 120 years to complete. Many of the most famous Italian architects in that period worked on designing and constructing St. Peter's Basilica.

Bramante created the first plan for the Basilica in 1506. His design called for a Greek cross-shaped structure with a dome inspired by the Roman Pantheon's cupola. Raphael took over as chief architect in 1514 and changed the original design to a Latin cross with three aisles separated by pillars.

Michelangelo succeeded Raphael in 1520. He was fascinated by the concept of a centric cross-domed structure. On the east side, his project included the construction of a multi-column entrance portico (in the most ancient basilicas of Rome, the entrance was on the east, not on the west side). Michelangelo made the space beneath the rounded vault more solid. He intended to build a vast dome over the middle cross.

Giacomo Della Porta, Michelangelo's pupil, continued to build the church in 1564. He gave the dome a parabolic shape rather than the hemispherical shape intended by Michelangelo. Maderna extended the eastern branch of the cross from 1607 to 1617. He built the façade and added a three-aisled basilical part to the centric building, thus returning to the shape of a Latin cross. As a result, the dome has lost its dominant meaning and can only be seen from afar because the façade conceals it.

How to Get to the Basilica of St. Peter

St. Peter's Basilica stands in Vatican City's St. Peter's Square, just a few kilometers to the west of the historic center of Rome. Open in October–March: from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; April–September: from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The entrance is free. Climbing to the dome: € 8 for the lift to the terrace plus 320 steps by foot; € 6 for the 551 steps.

Bus (lines 34, 46, 64, 98, 190F, 881, 916, 916F, 982) stop: Cavalleggeri/S. Pietro
Metro (line A) station: Ottaviano–San Pietro–Musei Vaticani
Tram (line 19) stop: Risorgimento/S. Pietro
Train (REG, RV) station: Roma S.Pietro

Best St. Peter's Basilica Tours

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