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Rome (Vatican City): Saint Peter’s Basilica


About Saint Peter’s Basilica:

St Peters Baso;ocaThere is so much to see here and so much has been written about Saint Peter’s Basilica, that we will only touch the surface on this page. Here we find the heart of the Catholic Church for the whole world. The most important relic to be found here is the tomb of St. Peter. Around 64-67 the apostle was martyred on Vatican Hill, crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus was.

Michelangelo’s Pieta is one of the most famous sculptures in the world, and is located just inside the entrance to the basilica on the right side.

You find the tombs of several Popes here, including that of Pope Leo I, also known as Leo the Great and a Doctor of the Church. He was Pope from September 440 AD until his death on November 10, 461 AD. He is perhaps best known for having met with Attila the Hun in 452 and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy.

The Chapel of Saint Sebastian now houses the body of Saint John Paul II. He was previously interred in a simple crypt, but upon his being Beatified his body was transferred to the chapel.

The tomb of Pope Innocent XI, which was formerly in the Chapel of Saint Sebastian, is now in the Chapel of the Transfiguration.

The magnificent St. Peter’s Square with the ancient Egyptian obelisk, which contains a relic of the cross of Christ, and fountain of Carlo Maderno – all surrounded by Bernini’s colonnade, leaves one breathless. When the pope is in Rome, audiences take place Wednesday mornings in St. Peter’s Square or in the audience hall.

For independent travelers, we recommend having a guided tour of the Basilica if possible, since there is so much here. Most group tours will naturally have a guide. And with the advent–and requirement–of the “whisper system” it is easy to hear your guide without the noise from other guides interfering with your experience.  The “whisper system” as the name suggests involves each person having a headset while the guide can speak into a microphone. That way the guide does not have to shout and everyone can hear what is being said without any background noise and without disturbing others.

Many are interested in the “Scavi Tour“, which will take you underneath the Basilica close to the tomb of Saint Peter. Most tour companies are unable to schedule these in advance, they must be booked by individuals or by priests. So if you wish to take the Scavi Tour you should contact the Vatican directly.

Click here for the official website of Saint Peter’s Basilica.


Check out:  101 Surprising Facts About St. Peter’s and the Vatican

Getting there:

For help finding your way around, we suggest the “Little Black Book of Rome”  It is organized by location rather than alphabetically like so many guide books.  And we also suggest you carry a “Streetwise Map of Rome” for easy navigating.

Address: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

GPS coordinates: 41° 54′ 7.9956” N, 12° 27′ 24.4764” E

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