St. Peter's Basilica Overview

St. Peter’s Basilica is a Renaissance-style church in the holy Vatican City, and it is not only the largest, richest, and most spectacular basilica in Italy but also has great historical importance. As per tradition, the St. Peter’s Basilica stands on the burial site of revered St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome and one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. 

Due to its great religious significance, this basilica is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Christians, attracting thousands of devotees each year. Besides its religious importance, the St. Peter’s Basilica is renowned for its magnificent Renaissance architecture. This church, designed by the greatest artists and painters of the time, houses spectacular works of art by Donato Bramante, Carlo Maderno, Michelangelo, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

With your St. Peter's Basilica tickets, explore the beautiful interiors of this church up close, enjoy panoramic views of the city, and make unforgettable memories with friends and family.

St. Peter's Basilica Tickets Variations

Skip-the-line ticket with audio guide
Skip-the-line ticket with audio guide

If you dislike standing in long queues and do not wish to waste any time during your stay in Rome and the Vatican City, get a St. Peter's Basilica skip-the-line ticket. You can book this ticket online and avail priority access to the church. Another benefit of selecting the St. Peter's Basilica skip-the-line ticket is that it includes an audio guide. However, to listen to the audio guide, either get your own headphones, or you’ll have to purchase them at the site.

Combo tour – St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museums
Combo tour – St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museums

Your trip to the Vatican City will remain incomplete if you do not visit the spectacular Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, in addition to St. Peter’s Basilica. A Combo tour ticket is the best value for money package for touring all of the must-see attractions in Vatican City. This package includes visits to the historic St. Peter's Basilica, the artistic Vatican Museums, and the world-famous Sistine Chapel. The entire combo tour is fully guided and lasts for approximately three hours.

Explore St. Peter’s Basilica

The Baldachin of Bernini
The Baldachin of Bernini

The moment you enter St. Peter’s Basilica, you will be left awestruck by the remarkable bronze sculpture that serves as a canopy over the basilica's altar. This ornate Baldachin was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a great Italian sculptor, and architect, in 1634 and marks St. Peter’s Tomb, which is located within the basilica.

The Body of Pope John XXIII
The Body of Pope John XXIII

With St. Peter’s Basilica tickets, you can also view the body of the much-loved and revered Pope John XXIII beautifully displayed in a decorated glass coffin. The Pope’s body was removed from his original tomb 38 years after his demise to be showcased in this basilica, a feat accomplished by only two other popes before him.

The Tombs
The Tombs

Since St. Peter's burial in the basilica, it is customary to bury all popes in this church. Hence, the St. Peter's Basilica contains over 100 tombs, 91 of which are those of former popes. In addition to exploring these tombs, you can see Saint Peter's relics in the crypt.

The Dome
The Dome

The dome of St Peter's Basilica is the highlight of the whole monument. While you can always view it from the outside, the best part is that you can climb it too! This magnificent cupola stands directly above Peter's tomb, and after climbing 551 steps, you can catch a well-deserved breathtaking panoramic view of Rome and the Vatican City.

Brief history of St. Peter’s Basilica

Brief history of St. Peter’s Basilica

The current St. Peter's Basilica was built in the 14th century on the initiative of Pope Nicholas V. The Old Basilica, which once stood on the site, had mostly deteriorated, with walls leaning out and frescoes hidden beneath several layers of dust. Hence, the entire church was demolished to make way for a stronger and more opulent structure. The first stone for the new St. Peter's Basilica was laid in 1506, and after a century of erratic construction, the basilica finally opened to the public in 1626. Over the course of 120 years, more than five architects from various periods, including Rossellino, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini, contributed to the creation of the building. The basilica was eventually named after St. Peter, one of Jesus Christ's twelve disciples and the first bishop of Rome. Today, this splendid Basilica is a major Christian pilgrimage site and is renowned for its spectacular architecture.

5 Amazing Facts about St. Peter's Basilica

  • St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the largest church on the face of Earth, and it can hold 60,000 people at a single time and is designed in the shape of a cross.
  • The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is the tallest in the world, measuring 448.1 ft (136.5 m). It is so tall that it can even fit the entire Statue of liberty inside! What’s even more amazing is that you can even climb this huge dome and enjoy scenic views of Rome. 
  • An Egyptian obelisk stands 25.5 m (84 ft) tall in the center of Saint Peter's Square. Originally brought to Rome by the famous Emperor Caligula, it was moved to the Vatican City by Pope Sixtus V with the help of 800 men. 
  • There is a common misconception that St. Peter’s Basilica is a cathedral. In reality, the church is not a cathedral because it is not the seat of a bishop. The Papal Archbishop's Basilica of Saint John Lateran, also in Rome, serves as the bishop's seat.
  • Although it is asserted that the relics of Saint Peter are found here, some archaeologists opine that his remains were actually buried in a cave in Jerusalem!

Attending Mass at St. Peter's Basilica

Attending Mass at St. Peter's Basilica

When in the holiest city of Christendom, it is a must to attend a Mass. While a large number of travelers to Vatican City are pilgrims with the sole motive of celebrating Mass, it can also be attended by tourists. Masses take place at St. Peter’s Basilica every day, and there is plenty of space inside the church to accommodate as many as 60,000 devotees at a time. The most common altars where Mass is held are the Altar of St. Joseph, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter. 

If you are visiting on a weekday, you can attend any of the five Mass celebrations that take place during the day. On weekends, the Mass is held an even greater number of times, usually eight. When attending Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, keep in mind that most masses are held in Italian, with at least one in Latin.

Plan Your Visit to St. Peter’s Basilica

Know Before You Go
Tips for visiting St. Peter’s Basilica
Know Before You Go

Opening Hours:

St. Peter’s Basilica is open for tourists from 7 AM to 6 PM. From April to September, it is open for longer hours until 7 PM. 

How to Get Here:

By Metro: To reach the closest station to the basilica, Ottaviano-S. Pietro Station, take the red metro line from Roma Termini. You may also get off at The Cipro Station, which is also a close stop from the basilica.

By Bus: Board a bus with route number 64 that stops at Cavalleggeri/S. Pietro is only a 4-minute walk to the basilica. You may also take bus 40 and get off at Traspontina/Conciliazione, which is 6-minute away from the church. Buses with route numbers 32, 81, and 982 also stop at a nearby station, Piazza del Risorgimento.

By Train: From Roma Termini, take the RE 12524 or REG 12514 to Civitavecchia or the RE 4134 to Pisa Centrale. They all arrive at St. Pietro which is about 11 minutes from the basilica.

By Tram: Tram 19 departs from V.Le Regina Margherita/Morgagni. Stop at the Piazza del Risorgimento, from where St. Peter's Basilica is only a 6-minute walk away.

Best Time to Visit:

It is best to visit St. Peter's Basilica between November and March when it is far less crowded than during its peak season from April to September. Another recommendation is to go early in the morning (between 7 AM and 9 AM), when there will be fewer visitors, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the church without being pushed around. 

Dress Code:

Since St. Peter's Basilica is a sacred site, you must dress modestly. Both men and women must not wear any clothes showing skin, such as shorts, mini skirts, or bare shoulders to the church.

Security Check:

Before entering the basilica, you will have to undergo a security check. Umbrellas, stands, sticks, video cameras, tripods, luggage, suitcases, large bags, metal tools, food, and drinks are prohibited at the site. 

FAQs About St. Peter's Basilica Tickets

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