I visited Vatican during a short vacation in Rome. After tons of accumulated information, I decided that St. Peter’s Basilica is a must see attraction. I was accompanied by my 13-year-old daughter who would not have been patient to spend long hours in the queue in the hot sun of Rome and then another 3 hours in the Vatican Museums so I think this is better to visit only St. Peter’s Basilica. We woke up early in the morning, and at 7.30 we were in St. Peter’s Square. At the entrance to the basilica there were no more than 15-20 persons. My daughter, who had not heard in the last few days that it is better to be armed with patience looked at me in a surprise. I explained her that in about two hours, when we were out, the queue would be endless ……and so it was. In the basilica, I was impressed by the religious ceremonies that were held simultaneously in the various altars. It seemed to me a very beautiful idea to listen to the Vatican Mass. Some were private and we keep the distance to not disturb. Their program here and here. The basilica is the work of several artists: Michaelangelo (the dome), Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana, Bernini, etc. I looked with binoculars at Pieta of Michelangelo’s and I was impressed by the huge mosaics and by Bernini’s baldachin of St Peter. Under the baldachin there is St. Peter’s tomb. Saint Peter’s Basilica is huge being 190 m long and 45.50 m high. You can also visit the Vatican Grottoes that is a vast underground graveyard or crypt. When we climbed the Dome I told my daughter few geography facts: the Vatican with its 0.44km2 is the smallest state on the globe and one of the more influential by its unique status. The largest river that runs through Rome is the Tiber (Tevere in Italian) that springs from the Apennine Mountains, whose silhouettes are profiled on the horizon. Rome is called the city on the seven hills that we have partly identified due to the high density of the buildings. In the way to the dome we had to face very narrow steps. There are 551 steps to climb. We chose to take the elevator so we climbed ONLY 320 steps. Take this in account because in summer it is very hot.
Good to know:
- You have to pass through the airport style scanners and security when you enter the basilica. Bottles, sharp things and cans are forbidden.
- St Peter’s Basilica is open daily, April-Sept 7am-7pm and Oct-March 7am-6pm.
- The dress code says that men must wear long trousers and cover their shoulders. Women must not have shorts or skirts shorter than knee length. The shoulders must be covered.
- At the entrance, on the right, there is an information desk that rents audio guides and guided tours in a range of languages.
- In the Vatican Grottoes the photography is not allowed.
- Saint Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Grottoes are free of charge.
- There are tickets for the Dome Details here.
- If you want to see the Pope for free, go on Sundays at noon in St. Peter’s Square.
Enjoy your visit at Vatican!