St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome Overview

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, or just St. Peter’s Basilica located in the Vatican City in Rome is one of the world’s largest churches and definitely the holiest site for Christianity. Known as the “Greatest Church in Christendom”, it is visited by millions of catholic pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. The reason for this church to be considered the most important catholic shrine goes back to the fact that it served as the death as well as the burial ground for Saint Peter who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ and the first pope in the Catholic world. The structure that we see today took over a hundred years to complete by the best architects of all time. The magnificent structure can easily accommodate a total of 60,000 visitors at a time.

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  1. Please follow the dress code properly. For men, they must wear full in lower clothing (no shorts) and are not allowed to show their shoulders. For women, they cannot have bare shoulders and their skirts should be below their knee. Both genders should wear shoes and remove their hats before entering the basilica.
  2. Please refrain from photography where it is written that photography is banned.
  3. Attend the audience mass by Pope on Wednesdays. If you just want to visit the monument, avoid going on a wednesday.
  4. Be very careful of your valuables as there are chances of pickpocketing in crowded areas of the Vatican city. 
  5. If you want to avoid the long queue for entry to the church, come as early as possible.


After the crucification of Jesus Christ, Simon Peter or Saint Peter became the leader of the christian community and travelled to several countries with the final stop to Rome where his body was buried in a cemetery. Under the rule of Emperor Constantine, the first construction of the Basilica began in 326 AD over a small chapel that was believed to be the burial place for Saint Peter’s body. However, over the course of time different parts of the Basilica were collapsing and by the end of the 15th century, the state of the building was at its worst. It was then Pope Nicholas V called out two of the best architects of that time Leone Batista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellino to restore the monument. But it did not get completed, and then Pope Julius II decided to bring down the old building and make a new one on the same place with Donato Bramante as the Head of the Operation. However it did not finish under his reign, and the construction occurred under the rule of 21 popes and by the work of 8 architects.

Architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica

The front facade of the monument is 46 metres in height and acts as a base for the statues of The Christ, John the Baptist and the remaining 11 apostles of Jesus Christ.

There are five massive doors that make way for the narthex where two statues of Charles the Great and Constantine stand, from where five other doors lead to the main hall of the basilica. The main hall or the nave is covered with several works of Bernini including the baldchin over the altar which is 26 metres in height and made of bronze. Below that also lies the grave of Saint Peter called confessio surrounded by 95 bronze oil lamps. Statues of Saint Peter, Veronica, Andrew, Longinus and Helena also stand along the pillars that support the dome. Another notable artworks include the Monument to Pope Alexander VII, Pieta - a marvellous sculpture of Mary holding her dead son and the Altar of Saint Jerome.

The dome of the church is one of the largest in the world with 42 metres as diameter and rising 133 metres in height and rests on 4 massive pillars. It is a masterpiece designed by the one and only Michelangelo along with the ideas from of Bramante and Sangallo. It was however completed by Giacomo Della Porta. There is a platform on the cylindrical part of the dome from where you can enjoy the stunning panoramic view of the city.

How to Reach St. Peter’s Basilica

Rome Metro: Ottaviano (Line A) and then 10 minutes walk.

Buses: Vatican City - 40, 62, 64, 80

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