St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest places in the world and as one of Rome’s most remarkable landmarks. Situated in the Vatican City, St. Peter’s rests over the relics of its namesake saint and attracts millions of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world every year. St. Peter’s Basilica is an architectural masterpiece and most visitors are amazed by its size.
St. Peter’s Basilica: interior
Entrance to the church is free and the interior is a superb example of Renaissance design, with many contributions by master artists, including personalities of the likes of Bernini and Michelangelo.
There is also a bronze statue of Saint Peter, said to bring luck if you rub his toe. At the center of the right and left transepts stands Bernini’s Baldacchino, a bronze canopy covering the altar and the remains of Saint Peter.
St. Peter’s Basilica: explore the dome and roof
On the northern side of St. Peter’s Square there is an entrance that allows access to the dome and its roof. To reach the roof, you can choose between climbing a 320-step staircase or taking the elevator. Once at the base of the cupola, you can go on up the stairs onto the roof, where you can enjoy really breath-taking views of the city of Rome.
Be advised that lines to get into the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano can be very long, especially if there is a special event, like the canonization of a saint, or at the height of tourist season. Photography is allowed in St. Peter’s and the basilica is accessible by wheelchair.
Remember that St. Peter’s is a sacred religious site, not just a tourist attraction. There is a very strict dress code for admittance. For reasons of respect, women are not allowed in with uncovered shoulders or wearing mini-skirts, shorts or any blatantly revealing clothing. Sleeveless shirts and shorts are forbidden on men too.
The queues you join in St. Peter’s Square are to pass through airport-style scanners and security. Even if you get through security, you can be turned away from St. Peter’s Basilica by the attendants or the Swiss Guards at the door if you enter the church immodestly or if you are not dressed appropriately.
St. Peter’s Basilica: operating hours
As for operating hours and days, during the months of April through September, St. Peter’s Basilica is open every day from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. The rest of the year, it opens at 7:00 am and closes at 6:00 pm.
The dome is open from 8:00 am to 5:45 pm from April to September, while the rest of the year its operating hours are 8:00 am to 4:45 pm.
Every Sunday at noon, the Pope appears at the second window of the Apostolic Palace to bless the crowd in Saint Peter’s Square. No ticket is required and there is no fee to pay for this service. The Pope offers a general audience in Saint Peter’s Square on Wednesdays. In winter, the ceremony is moved into the Papal Audience Chamber.