The Vatican Hill has been the destination of pilgrims who want to visit the tomb of the Apostle Peter for almost two millennia.
In the 17th century, with the construction of the new St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican became the religious center of the Catholic Church.
Today, Vatican city is one of the most important attractions in Rome with its spectacular St. Peter’s Basilica and the countless treasures of the Vatican Museums.
Let yourself be fascinated by its 2,000-year history and its magnificence.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world
a visit to this impressive basilica and the famous dome of Michelangelo is a must for most Rome visitors. Book the official audio guide or the competent official guided tour to get an overview with lots of information about this jewel of church history.
By the way, St. Peter’s Basilica is also a Catholic parish. There are baptisms and weddings and you can order mass intentions.
St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Square is a great staging that is intended to convince all visitors of the greatness of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Bernini colonnades embrace the pilgrims. The larger-than-life statues of the Saints on the colonnades greet and bless them. The Pope blesses the visitors every Sunday at noon after the Angelus prayer. More about St. Peter’s Square
There are four Pope basilicas in Rome: St. Peter, St. Paul outside the walls, St. John and Santa Maria Maggiore. St. Lawrence outside the walls does not belong to the Papal basilicas anymore since the middle of the 19th century. St. Lawrence is part of the Seven Churches Pilgrimage Route, together with the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem and St. Sebastian at the Catacombs on the Appia Antica.
A Holy Door is open in the Papal basilicas during the Holy Years. Walking through the Holy Door grants the repentant pilgrim the discharge of all his sins. The next Holy Year is in 2025.
In Rome, the dead were only allowed to be buried outside the city walls. Since the ground was scarce, the necropolis went deep and the catacombs evolved. There are numerous catacombs along the Consular roads, but only a few are open to the public.
All of the catacombs in Rome are under the administration of the Vatican.
Read our information about the catacombs on the Appia Antica.
There are over 900 churches in Rome. New churches are still being built today.
Apart from the catacombs, the oldest surviving churches date back to the beginning of the 3rd century under Emperor Constantine.
In addition to Catholic churches, numerous other Christian communities and other religions are represented in Rome.
Vatican City is the smallest state in the world. In addition to the Vatican City, there are also a few territories such as the Pope Basilicas or the Children’s Hospital Bambino Gesù, which belong to the Vatican State.
The Vatican has only been the seat of the Popes since the end of the Church State in 1870. Until then, they resided in the Quirinal as Head of State. More information about Vatican City
By the way, Pope Francis is also the Bishop of Rome. Interestingly, the seat of the bishop is the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran and not St. Peter’s.