St. Peter's Basilica in 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. 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 of world-famous artists. Visiting this magnificent edifice was the icing on the cake of my wonderful trip to the Vatican.

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. If you're planning a trip to Rome or Italy, don't miss Vatican City and the Basilica.

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Vatican City Map

The Basilica's Brief History

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 at 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.

At the moment, the St. Peter's Basilica is a 218-meter-long, 136-meter-tall structure with a dome. It covers an area of 23,000 square meters / 250,000 square feet.

St. Peter's Basilica in Pictures

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

How to Get There

St. Peter's Basilica stands in Vatican City's St. Peter's Square, just a few kilometers to the west from the historic center of Rome.

Address: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Vatican City

By Public Transportation

Bus (lines 34, 46, 64, 98, 190F, 881, 916, 916F, 982): Cavalleggeri/S. Pietro

Metro (line A): Ottaviano–San Pietro–Musei Vaticani

Tram (line 19): Risorgimento/S. Pietro

Train (REG, RV): Roma S.Pietro

The Best Tours to See St. Peter's Basilica

Opening Hours & Ticket Prices

If you intend to visit the Basilica, please check the website of the official tourist service for Saint Peter Basilica for practical information such as operating hours and ticket prices.

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