St. Peter's Basilica

Elements of interest

The Basilica is known worldwide for many reasons. Below you can find out more about its many art treasures, the famous dome, the statue of St. Peter, and the many tombs of famous popes.

Art treasures

St. Peter’s Basilica is not only an impressive masterpiece on the outside, but true art treasures are hidden inside as well. There are over 45 altars and 11 chapels, in addition to numerous valuable works of art, including Bernini’s canopy over the high altar, works by Arnolfo di Cambio and Michelangelo’s Pietà.

The vaults are decorated with magnificent mosaics and countless sculptures. Impressive statues of St. Peter, St. Paul, Jesus, and John the Baptist rise on the facade.

In addition, St. Peter’s Basilica has five major gates: the Gate of the Dead (used for funeral rites), the Gate of Good and Evil, the Central Gate (also called the Gate of Filarete), the Gate of the Sacraments, and finally the Holy Gate (only opened in a Holy Year).

The Dome

The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is another popular Vatican attraction and is always crowded. If you decide to climb it, keep in mind that there are waiting times of up to an hour (especially in high season and on weekends).

The climb is worth it. Not only to admire the massive construction of the dome (supported by four large pilasters on which four circular arches protrude and have a total weight of over 14,000 tons), but also the breathtaking view.

Part of the adventurous climb can be done by elevator, but the last 320 steps leading to the very top of the dome must be walked. The view of Rome, especially at sunset, is a true delight.

Entrance fees to the dome

If you want to use the elevator, the entrance fee is €10. If you choose to use only the stairs, the entrance fee is €8. There are no discounts available on both prices. However, it’s possible to buy a ticket without having to wait in line.

Important: The entrance fee must be paid in cash. Many visitors wait in line for a long time only to find out that paying by card isn’t possible. So, be prepared.

St. Peter’s Statue

The bronze statue of St. Peter is one of the most famous and visited works of art within the basilica. The sculpture was created around the year 1300 by Arnolfo di Cambio.

Since 1605 it has stood in its present location on the right side of the nave of the enormous cathedral. On a closer look, you’ll notice that the right foot of the figure is damaged. This has to do with the fact that its touch is said to bring good luck and blessing.

Around 1450 this tradition was initiated and today the foot of the statue is touched by about 5 million pilgrims and tourists every year. For some believers, this is reason enough to make a pilgrimage to Rome.

Tombs of significant popes

Numerous popes were buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. Many of the tombs have vanished but some resting places can still be visited today.

A total of 148 mausoleums of deceased popes can be found in the basilica. These are located under the nave near the crypt.

St. Peter’s tomb, for example, is believed to be located under the papal main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica. And under the altar of St. Sebastian Chapel, the second chapel on the right is the tomb of Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.

Introduction
Elements of interest