St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is simply amazing. You have to see the size and facilities with your own eyes. The Pope’s altar and Michelangelo’s huge dome sit over the tomb of the Apostle Peter.
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St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is the main church of Catholic Christendom and seat of the Pope.
The present building dates mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries. It has one of the largest interiors in the world.
Since 1547, St Peter is also a parish. Here baptisms, confirmations and marriages are made. Read about getting married in Rome.
St. Peter’s Basilica is open every day. The opening times are:
April – September 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
October – March 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
All people can visit St. Peter’s Basilica as long as they behave appropriately and respect the dress code. Entry to St. Peter’s Basilica is free, but there are often long queues at security.
In principle, everyone can visit the St. Peter’s Basilica. Only for the Pope’s Masses and Papal Audiences you have to pre-order tickets.
You cannot visit the Sistine Chapel, where the popes are elected, from St. Peter’s Basilica. It belongs to the Vatican Museums.
Entrance fees: Entry to St. Peter’s Basilica is free. There is currently no skip the line priority entry.
Admission to the Pope’s Mass and Pope’s audiences is also free. The free tickets to the Pope’s Masses and the Pope’s audiences must be ordered in advance in good time.
As of January 2023, there is no visitor service at St. Peter’s.
If you choose the Rome Tourist Pass, a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica with dome climb is included.
More information about St. Peter’s Basilica tickets on
As in all sacral sites, you must follow the dress code in St. Peter’s Basilica. Shoulders and knees must be covered and you need sturdy shoes. This also applies to children. It is at the discretion of the volunteers of St. Peter’s whether they consider your clothes appropriate.
You are not allowed to take any dangerous objects such as scissors or knives with you and metal bottles will also be rejected. You can take drinks in plastic bottles and umbrellas with you.
People with disabilities do not need to queue.
There are guided tours for the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica with direct passage from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica. Since you have already passed the security check in the Vatican Museums, you can go to St. Peter’s Basilica without any further check.
Best time to visit
In principle, it is quietest in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning. Don’t expect long queues at security until around 8:30 am.
However, most of the time you can’t visit the grottoes in the morning because masses are celebrated. If you climb the dome, the photos will not be so good because the sun rises over the city.
Late afternoon is also usually less busy. However, it can be very hot when you climb the dome, especially from June to October, depending on the weather.
St. Peter’s Basilica is usually not accessible on Wednesday mornings, when the papal audience is held in St. Peter’s Square, and during papal masses.
The dome was designed by Michelangelo. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the completion. The elevator to the dome is in St. Peter’s Basilica on the left. The ticket office is in the vestibule on the left side under the equestrian statue of Charlemagne.
To visit the dome, you can either take the elevator to the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica or walk up 231 steps. The ascent to the dome takes another 320 steps.
with elevator € 10, on foot € 8, school groups € 5 with list of names
St. Peter’s dome opening hours
When St. Peter’s Basilica is open, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica has the following opening hours:
April – September 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
October – March 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Ascent to the dome
The way to the top of the cupola is one-way. Inverting the ascent is difficult to impossible. During the ascent you can smell fear pheromones. If you suffer from claustrophobia, you should not dare to climb! On the other hand, there is not much you can do, you will be pushed by the people behind you.
The further you get to the top, the narrower the gait will be until you have to climb up curved in the corridor along the cupola. The last piece is a staircase upwards.
In good weather you will be rewarded with a wonderful view over the city and the gardens of the Vatican.
Treasury and grottoes
Under the basilica are the grottoes. They were created by the fact that the current structure was built one floor above the first basilica of the Emperor Constantine from the 4th century. Many popes and high-ranking personalities are buried in the grottoes.
You can descend to the grottoes by the pillars that support the dome. The path through the grottoes ends above St. Peter’s Visitor Center at the entrance to the dome.
Admission is required to visit the Treasury. The visit to the grottoes is free of charge.
Treasury opening hours
When St. Peter’s Basilica is open, you can also visit the treasury. The treasury is located on the left side of St. Peter’s Basilica and has the following opening hours:
April – September 9 a.m.-6:15 p.m.
October – March 9 a.m.-5:15 p.m.
Grottoes opening hours
The grottoes open at 7, but are only accessible for liturgical celebrations. In general, it can be said that the grottoes are never accessible to visitors before 9, and sometimes much later. The grottoes can be closed at any time for liturgical celebrations.
The official opening hours of the grottoes are:
April – September 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
October – March 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
How to get to St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is on the Vatican Hill. In ancient times it was outside Rome and was a burial ground. Next to it was the circus, the race track, of the Emperor Nero. In this circus, according to tradition, the apostle Peter was crucified. He was then buried on the Vatican hill and later the first basilica was built there.
San Pietro train station is right next to the Vatican. From Fiumicino airport visitors have to change trains in Trastevere, from the cruise port Civitavecchia you arrive directly in San Pietro station.
From Termini central station take bus 40 or 64.
From the city center, take underground line A to the Ottaviano metro station.
Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica
Of course, numerous Masses are celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica. The following times apply:
|Choir Chapel - in the nave on the left||7:00, 8:00|
|Chapel of the blessed Sacrament - in the nave on the right||8:30||13:00|
|Altar of St. Joseph - in the transept on the left||7:30, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, Angelus 12:00||7:00, 8:00|
|Cattedra - behind the Baldacchino||17:00||9:00, 10:30, 12:30, 16:00, 18:00, Vespri 17:00|
In addition, on weekdays at 18:00 and after the Papal Audience at 12:00 there is a Pilgrim Mass with meeting point at the statue of St. Peter.
Private groups make appointments for Masses in the sacristy. Masses can usually be held in the morning in the grottoes.
Have masses celebrated – Mass stipends
The Mass stipend is the donation for the celebration of a Holy Mass. The intent that the faithful wishes to bring to the Holy Mass is the Mass intention.
For a Mass stipend, you must go to the sacristy of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Sacristy is located on the left side of the Basilica in front of the Treasury.
If the entrance is blocked, you can call at the Treasury and someone will come to give you access.
In the sacristy you can pay the Mass stipend, 10 euros per Mass, and receive a receipt.
The Mass will be celebrated in the course of the following two weeks. You cannot set an exact date.
More about St. Peter’s
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