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The lofty dome at the heart of St. Peter’s Basilica is a famous symbol of Vatican City – the world’s smallest autonomous state – and one of many lofty contributions to the Late Renaissance and Baroque periods of architecture.
The history of the site is based around a great deal of Christian mythology. It is said that following Jesus’ crucifixion, one of his twelve disciples, Peter from Galilee, underwent a long journey to Rome, and upon arriving was martyred by the Emperor Nero. Peter allegedly died close to an Egyptian obelisk in the Circus; a site which still stands today. The spot was initially marked by a red rock, then a shrine, before the first St Peter’s Basilica was built in the fourth century. Eventually, this wooden structure fell into disrepair, and a huge construction project was commissioned to replace it, which was to last over a century! The project was commissioned by Pope Julius II and the new Basilica was finally officially opened on 18th November, 1626.
Since then, St Peter’s Basilica has become one of the most sacred Catholic sites in the world, and also one of the most frequently visited. The exquisite exterior blends the work of various well-known names that span generations, with Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo’s work all featured, including its iconic dome.
The interior is awe-inspiring. Once inside the Basilica, there is an abundance of fascinating material to discover. There are exquisite frescoes and mosaics by the likes of Bernini and Giotto alongside Michelangelo’s Peita and Arnolfo di Cambio’s Saint Peter sculptures, Vico Consorti’s Holy Door and Bernini’s famous ornate altar, making it one the world’s most lavishly and extravagantly decorated buildings. Beneath the Basilica there are other rare treasures to discover, such as the beautiful tombs of historically significant Vatican figures, from St. Peter to Pope John Paul II. Whatever your religious persuasion, this is a location not to be missed.
St. Peter’s Basilica is in central Rome and open daily. Opening times vary depending on the season. The Vatican Museum is closed on Sundays. By foot from the city centre, cross the Tiber and walk straight up the Via della Conciliazione. The Ottaviano Metro station is a short walk away along Via Ottaviano.
There are heaps of cool ways to get a feel for St. Peter's Basilica. Here are some of some of the top ones:
Take a look at our Rome things to do page to find many more activities in the area.
Located in Rome City Centre, this guesthouse is within a 5-minute walk of Villa Borghese, Via del Corso, and Piazza del Popolo. National Gallery of Modern Art and Piazza di Spagna are also within 15 minutes. Flaminio - Piazza del Popolo Station and Rome Piazzale Flaminio Station are within a 2-minute walk.
Located in Repubblica, this family-friendly Rome hotel is steps from Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Via Nazionale, and Via XX Settembre. Via Veneto and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore are also within 10 minutes. Repubblica - Opera House Station is only a 2-minute walk and Barberini Station is 8 minutes.
Located in the center of Rome, this family-friendly hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo, St. Peter's Square, and Monte Mario. St. Peter's Basilica and Castel Sant'Angelo are also within 1 mi (2 km). Cipro Station is 6 minutes by foot and Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 8 minutes.
Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica. Sistine Chapel and Castel Sant'Angelo are also within 1 mi (2 km). Rome S. Pietro Station is 5 minutes by foot and Rome San Pietro Station is 5 minutes.
Located in Vatican, this property is steps from St. Peter's Square, Paul VI Audience Hall, and St. Peter's Basilica. Sistine Chapel and Apostolic Palace (Palace of the Vatican) are also within 10 minutes. Rome S. Pietro Station is 9 minutes by foot and Rome San Pietro Station is 9 minutes.
Located in Vatican, this family-friendly Rome hotel is within a 10-minute walk of St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica, and Sistine Chapel. Castel Sant'Angelo and Vatican Museums are also within 1 mi (2 km). Rome S. Pietro Station and Rome San Pietro Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Vatican, this guesthouse is within a 5-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo and St. Peter's Square. St. Peter's Basilica and Castel Sant'Angelo are also within 10 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 9 minutes by foot and Rome S. Pietro Station is 14 minutes.
Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica. Sistine Chapel and Castel Sant'Angelo are also within 1 mi (2 km). Rome S. Pietro Station is 9 minutes by foot and Rome San Pietro Station is 9 minutes.