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St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro )

Experience this high-domed church at the heart of Catholicism and its magnificent gallery at the heart of the art world.

The lofty dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is the great towering symbol of the minuscule Vatican state and a towering artistic statement of the Late Renaissance and Baroque periods.

The history of this site incorporates a great deal of Christian mythology. The story goes that, after the crucifixion of Jesus, one of his 12 disciples, Peter from Galilee, embarked on a long trek to Rome where he was martyred by Emperor Nero. The location where he died, close to the Egyptian obelisk in the Circus (which still stands today), was initially marked by a red rock, and then by a shrine, followed by the first (Old) St. Peter’s Basilica in 360. This wooden structure stood for more than a millennium until it fell into disrepair in the 15th century. In 1506, Pope Julius II broke ground on the basilica and a series of Renaissance masters began an immense century-long construction project.

Officially opened on November 18, 1626, the last 400 years have seen St. Peter’s Basilica become one of the most sacred sites of Catholicism and one of the world’s top tourist attractions. The beautiful exterior is a cross-generational collaboration between Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo, and includes an enormous nave and the high, iconic dome. It’s what stands inside, however, that really impresses.

Once inside, you’ll find frescoes and mosaics by the likes of Bernini and Giotto and a host of other treasures. Michelangelo’s Pietà and Arnolfo di Cambio’s Saint Peter sculptures, Vico Consorti’s Holy Door and Bernini’s famous altar are in good company with the treasures buried below the ground, such as the beautiful tombs of significant Vatican figures, from St. Peter to Pope John Paul II. Whether you’re a Catholic, an art aficionado or just a lover of beauty, St. Peter’s Basilica is a must-see.

The basilica is in central Rome and is open daily, although opening times vary according to the season. If you are planning to visit the Vatican Museums at the same time, be aware it is closed on Sundays with the exception of the last Sunday of the month. 


You can walk to the basilica from the city center; the most direct route is to cross the Tiber and walk straight up Via della Conciliazione. The Metro train station Ottaviano is a short walk away along Via Ottaviano.

Popular Activities at St. Peter's Basilica

You could easily spend a whole morning at St. Peter's Basilica. The list below provides a selection of the activities you can enjoy here:

If you're after even more activities, check out our Rome things to do page.


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Top Hotel Deals

See all 7,554 Properties near St. Peter's Basilica
Hotel Quirinale ¥18,486
Hotel Quirinale

Hotel Quirinale

Via Nazionale 7, Rome, RM
     
    4.2
    of 5, from 3,437 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    Central Rome hotel housed in a late 19th-century building retaining much Imperial grandeur, 500 metres from Quirinale Palace and one kilometre from the Colosseum.

    Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina -The Leading Hotels of the World ¥32,685
    Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina -The Leading Hotels of the World

    Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina -The Leading Hotels of the World

    Via del Gianicolo 3, Rome, RM
       
      4.5
      of 5, from 610 reviews
      5.0 out of 5.0

      This family-friendly Rome hotel is located on the riverwalk, within a 15-minute walk of Passeggiata del Gianicolo, Castel Sant'Angelo, and Villa Farnesina. St. Peter's Square and Piazza Navona are also within 1 mi (2 km). Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 21 minutes by foot and Rome San Pietro Station is 23 minutes.

      Grand Hotel Olympic ¥21,752
      Grand Hotel Olympic

      Grand Hotel Olympic

      Via Properzio 2/a, Rome, RM
         
        3.5
        of 5, from 767 reviews
        4.0 out of 5.0

        This Art Nouveau hotel is 1 block from Rome's Vatican Museums and 2 blocks from Saint Peter's Cathedral; it is near Via Cola di Rienzo shopping street, 1 kilometer from Castel S'Angelo and 3 kilometers from the Pantheon.

        Hotel Nazionale ¥18,755
        Hotel Nazionale

        Hotel Nazionale

        Piazza Montecitorio, 131, Rome, RM
           
          4.5
          of 5, from 1,362 reviews
          4.0 out of 5.0

          Located in Navona, this hotel is steps from Palazzo Montecitorio and Via del Corso. Pantheon and Trevi Fountain are also within 10 minutes. Barberini Station is 13 minutes by foot and Spagna Station is 13 minutes.

          Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House ¥14,215
          Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House

          Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House

          Via Mocenigo 7, Rome, RM
             
            4.3
            of 5, from 1,495 reviews
            4.0 out of 5.0

            Modern 76-room hotel set in Rome's historical center, just steps away from the Vatican, St Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel.

            Starhotels Michelangelo ¥15,429
            Starhotels Michelangelo

            Starhotels Michelangelo

            Via Della Stazione Di San Pietro 14, Rome, RM
               
              4.4
              of 5, from 3,674 reviews
              4.0 out of 5.0

              This hotel draws business travelers and families to its doors, 2 blocks from Rome's Vatican City, Saint Peter's Basilica and Square; Vatican Museum is a half-mile away, as is Castle San Angelo.

              Relais Vatican View ¥10,818
              Relais Vatican View

              Relais Vatican View

              Via del Mascherino 34, Rome, RM
                 
                4.5
                of 5, from 563 reviews
                0.0 out of 5.0

                Located in Vatican, this guesthouse is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo, St. Peter's Square, and St. Peter's Basilica. Castel Sant'Angelo and Sistine Chapel are also within 15 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 9 minutes by foot and Lepanto Station is 19 minutes.

                Palazzo Cardinal Cesi
                Palazzo Cardinal Cesi

                Palazzo Cardinal Cesi

                Via Conciliazione 51, Rome, RM
                   
                  4.5
                  of 5, from 395 reviews
                  4.0 out of 5.0

                  Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel. Piazza Navona and Pantheon are also within 1 mi (2 km). Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 12 minutes by foot and Rome San Pietro Station is 16 minutes.