Faster Than Skip The Line
St. Peter’s Basilica is the most important church in the Vatican. It was constructed on the site of the 4th-century basilica where St. Peter was buried. It was finished in 1590 when the artistic period of the Renaissance was in full force. Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini were just some of the artists who worked on the project, and it is also the final resting place of most of the Christian popes.
Its religious significance is further enhanced by the relics of the true cross that are contained in its own cross on the top of the dome. For the inquisitive, the footprint of the building of the basilica and St. Peter’s Square forms the design of a key.
Climb St. Peter’s Basilica to enjoy the views over Rome
When you meet your expert English-speaking guide in St. Peter’s Square, you’ll have some of the finer details pointed out on the famous dome that dominates the Vatican skyline.
The top of this incredible structure is one of your stops, but first, you’ll be taken by an elevator to the base of the dome with your guide.
This brings you out onto a viewing platform inside the basilica. From here, you’ll see Bernini’s bronze altar cover, or the Baldacchino as it is known, directly beneath you. It might appear small, but this is the largest piece of bronze in the world at three stories high.
In the lantern above you, you will see the image of God looking down. The walls of the dome are embellished with blue and gold mosaics depicting the saints of the church. Around the base, written in letters over six-feet high, is the Latin inscription from the Bible which gives the Christian popes their right as representatives of God.
This is where your guide leaves you so you can climb to the top. A spiral staircase will take you to the top of the dome, which measures 446 feet, for a stunning 360-degree view of the city. According to an old Roman law, this is as high as buildings can go in historic Rome.
From the top of the dome, the views are incredible. Down towards the Tiber River, the wide thoroughfare of Via della Conciliazione built by Mussolini will be easy to make out. So too will the lush gardens that the popes use in the Vatican. Across the skyline of historic Rome, the Colosseum and Pantheon can be seen on a clear day. This is a view that you will remember forever so make sure that you enjoy it.
Immediate access into St. Peter’s Basilica and the Crypts
Your guide will be waiting for you inside the basilica when you return. Instead of the open sky, you will now be looking up at the vaulted arches of the basilica, with views just as incredible. Bernini’s canopy with its pure twisted bronze columns shoots upward towards the dome. Light spills in through Michelangelo’s windows or the side windows depending on the time of day.
With your guide, you’ll discover the symbolism of the different doors, the chapels and the treasures like Michelangelo’s Pietá.
There is more to discover under the ground. The Vatican Crypts are one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in the world for Christians because they contain hundreds of tombs of the popes. Even the first pope, St. Peter, is buried here at a lower level.
Intimate groups and Vatican experts
Climbing the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is an achievement few can boast. It is even more of an experience with our guide who is an expert on Vatican Renaissance history.
You’ll discover how the basilica acted as a major influence for the churches that came after and also acted as the template for non-religious buildings like Capitol Building in Washington.
Additionally, you’ll learn how the basilica acted as a creative exercise for some of the Renaissance greats, like Bramante and Raphael.