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St. Peter's Basilica
Witness the Opulence of the Catholic Church in St Peter's Basilica
The Cupola or the Michelangelo dome is the tallest structure of the Basilica and the tallest dome in the world. It has an observation platform that provides the mesmerizing views of the Vatican City. As thrilling as it may sound but witnessing the beauty of Vatican is not for faint-hearted as it requires climbing a steep passage of 551 stairs. You can opt for an elevator that would save you from climbing some stairs (around 170) or if you are serious climber then take the stairway route.
Be dazzled by the sparkling relics from the past that are stored in the historical museum or Museo Storico. It contains jeweled chalices, copes, reliquaries etc. Here you will also find the 15th Century Bronze tomb of Pope Sixtus IV by Pollaiuolo, tabernacle by Donatello, a jewel-studded cross that was a gift of the emperor Justinian II and the 6th-century Crux Vaticana.
Beneath the Vatican, you would find a passage leading to Sacre Grotte or Grotte Vatican that contains graves of kings, queens, and popes. There also lies the tomb of Saint Peter.
St. Peter's Square also known as Piazza San Pietro lies in front of the Basilica. Designed by Bernini, the square is a masterpiece of its own. At the center of the square lies an obelisk and two stunning fountains. The 40-meter obelisk was brought to Rome in 37 B.C. Besides its large size, the square also presents to you the beauty of the 140 statues of saints standing on the pillars of the square. The front of the square also provides views of statues of St. Peter and St. Paul.
How to Get Tickets?
The entry to St. Peter's Basilica is free. However, there are certain areas that require an access fee. You will have to buy tickets to visit the dome and Museo Storico Artistico.
How To Get Around?
The admission to Basilica is free and you can stroll around taking in the enchanting beauty. The large structure with huge interiors and awe-inspiring architectural pieces are completely majestic. There are stairs to the Vatican Grotto and the Dome.
What Should I Wear?
One should dress conservatively while visiting St. Peter's Basilica as strict regulations are enforced. The worst thing would be crawling in the long queues and still not be able to enter the Basilica. To avoid this, make sure that you are properly dressed. Men should wear trousers and women can wear long skirts. Any clothing that shows bare shoulders or knees (shorts, vest tops, and miniskirts) is not permitted.
Best Time to Visit
St. Peter's Basilica is open every day. From April to September it is open from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening while from October to march it is open from 7 in the morning to 6:30 in the evening. Being a popular attraction, it remains crowded all through the year. However, if you wish to avoid bumping into people visit it early morning around 7. There are different visit timings of other attractions in the Basilica like the dome, Grottoes and the treasury. The Dome can be visited between 8:00-6:00 pm from April to September and 8:00-4:45 pm from October to March. Grottoes can be visited between 7:00-6:00 pm from April to September and 7:00-5:00 pm from October to March while the Treasury can be visited from 9:00-6:15 pm from April to September and 9:00-5:15 pm from October to March.
Will I Need a Guide?
Though you can explore the Basilica on your own it would be best to take a guide along. Well acquainted to the place, the guide would be better able to lead you through the large structure and take you to all must-see and must-visit areas. The Basilica holds numerous treasures and you might miss few in case you are exploring it on your own.
How To Get There?
St. Peter's Basilica is the iconic landmark of the Vatican and a prime tourist destination. Hence it is easily accessible by public transport. You can take a metro to Ottaviano and thereafter walk to the Basilica. If you are at the city center then walk across the Tiber and then straight through Conciliazioni, or you can take an alternative route through Passetto Arch to Pio Borgo.
The Vatican City is filled with pickpockets hence you need to take care of your belongings. The place is too crowded hence thefts are common. Also, you need to be disciplined and quiet while visiting the Grottoes. You cannot take pictures inside the Grottoes.