St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is an important church to visit for many reasons. Built on the site of one of the first Holy Roman basilicas, it was completed in 1590 at the height of the Renaissance. Among the artists who worked on it were Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini. Many of the great popes were buried here, including the first, St. Peter. You can even see the cross on the dome, which contains pieces of the timbers that Jesus died on. From the top viewing platform, you’ll see how the shape of the basilica and St. Peter’s Square forms the shape of a key – the symbol of the Christian popes.
Dome Climb with Views over Historic Rome
When you meet your expert guide in St. Peter’s Square, the first thing you’ll see is the famous dome that dominates the Vatican skyline. The top of this incredible structure is your target. To get there, you and your expert English-speaking guide will take the elevator to the base of the dome.
This brings you out onto a viewing platform inside the basilica. As you look down you will see the top of Bernini’s amazing canopy. From this height, it may look small, but it is the world’s largest piece of bronze, standing at over three stories high.
As you look up, you’ll see the image of God at the very apex, with light streaming through Michelangelo’s windows. In front of you are the incredibly detailed mosaics of the saints and the six-foot-high Latin lettering that proclaims St. Peter’s authority from the gospel.
You are then given free time to climb to the upper viewing deck by a spiral staircase running between the two skins that give the dome its structural strength. At intervals, you’ll be able to see out the windows while you climb.
After 320 steps you’ll be 446 ft high, the highest point in Rome. By law, no building in historic Rome can go higher.
At the top, you’ll have 360 degrees views of the stunning city. The long lines across St. Peter’s Square will be visible as others wait their turn to enter the basilica.
On the Vatican side, the Pope’s tranquil gardens can be seen. Iconic venues to look out for include the Colosseum, Pantheon, Villa Borghese and the controversial road which Mussolini built to connect the Vatican with Rome.
Take your time up here. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime climb, so make the most of it.
Fast access inside St. Peter’s Basilica and the Crypts
The stairs take you back down to meet your guide again. The contrast from the top is remarkable when you enter the basilica. Inside, you’ll feel tiny in comparison to the vaulted dome. At three stories high, Bernini’s pure bronze canopy will tower above you.
Your guide will show you through the immense church to discover treasures like the Holy Door and Michelangelo’s Pietá. That’s not all. You’ll also go deep underground into the Vatican Grottoes to view the resting places of over a hundred popes and notable royals.
Intimate Groups and Expert Guides
Reaching the top of St. Peter’s Basilica Dome is a major achievement in people’s lives. Having a guide showing you where to go makes it much more interesting and rewarding.
You’ll understand how the basilica dome paved the way for later Christian churches and secular monuments like Capitol Building in the United States. You’ll also discover the human story of Renaissance artists who left their marks and the popes who have been buried here.
We limit the tour to only 25 people to give you space on the climb.
You’ll have free time to climb to the highest point of the Vatican, explore the treasures inside this iconic basilica and see one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in the Christian world, all in just over two hours.