St. Peter’s Basilica

Visit the pope’s church in the Vatican City.

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the biggest churches in the world and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Whether you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope or examine the breathtaking art and architecture, this holy site is unmissable.

Shot of St Peters Basilica from distance
St Peter’s Basilica is located in the Vatican City.


  • Admire the realism of Michelangelo’s sculpture ‘La Pietà’.
  • Be stunned by Bernini’s Baldacchino – a bronze canopy over the High Altar, built over the tomb of St. Peter.
  • Marvel at the Cupola designed by Michelangelo – one of the largest domes in the world.

Tickets & Prices

St. Peter’s Basilica is not just any old church, it’s the most important one in the world for the Catholic church. Its impressive history, priceless works of art, and jaw-dropping architecture are all best discovered with a guided tour.

Discover which St. Peter’s Basilica ticket best suits your needs.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Live guides are available in English, Italian, French, German, or Spanish.
  • Children between the ages of 7-17 (with a valid photo ID) get a discounted ticket.
  • You have free cancellation up to 24 hours before your scheduled tour.
  • Select your date and time slot online and arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled tour. ​​
  • Tickets are sent via email which you can then show either printed out or in digital form.
  • You will meet your guide at the welcome desk in the atrium of the basilica.

St. Peter’s Basilica: Guided Tour Tickets

Learn about the wonders of the world’s largest church on this 1-hour guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, with an official Vatican guide, and enjoy unlimited free time after the tour to explore the Basilica at your own pace.

Rome Tourist Card

Get this nifty card and enjoy a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica with an official live guide.

With the same pass, you can also enjoy visiting other famous Roman attractions, such as skip-the-line access to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel; an audio guide of the Pantheon; and priority entrance to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.

Important Ticket Information:

  • Includes a headset so you can always hear your guide.
  • Select your visit dates online and receive tickets by email. Arrive at least 15 minutes before your designated time.
  • Free time afterward to explore the basilica at your own pace.

The Vatican City Pass

Discover the holiest country in the world with this handy pass. Book your visit dates online and receive tickets by email. Valid for three days from the starting date.

What’s included:

  • Skip-the-line access to the collections of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
  • Guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica with an official Vatican guide.
  • Rome: City Audio Guide App with over 130 hotspots to discover.

Additional Information

  • Your knees, chest, and shoulders must be covered, as this is a religious site
  • There is a mandatory security check and long queues, so give yourself plenty of time to arrive

What to see and do

You can spend days exploring the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica. Here’s a list of just some of the highlights. 

The Pietà

Visitors viewing the Chapel of the Pieta inside St. Peter’s Basilica
The Pietà is a key work of Italian Renaissance carved by Michelangelo Buonarroti

Created in the late 15th century by the masterful Michelangelo, this sensational representation of the Virgin Mary holding the body of Jesus Christ after being removed from the cross is one of the main attractions for visitors to the basilica. It’s a heartbreaking portrayal, expertly carved out of a single block of Carrara marble, and one of Michelangelo’s earliest works. 

It can be viewed in the first chapel on the right upon entrance to St. Peter’s.

The Cupola

Cupola Dome of St. Peter's Basilica

This iconic dome, the tallest in the world, was designed by Michelangelo but completed by his pupil, Giacomo della Porta, in 1590. It has 16 windows decorated with frescos, mosaics, and 96 different figures. It served as the inspiration for many other domes, such as the one on St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

It takes 551 steps to climb to the top (although you can take an elevator halfway), but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Vatican and the city of Rome. A specific ticket must be acquired to access it.

The Altar, the Baldacchino, and St. Peter’s Chair

View of the alter in St. Peter's Basilica

The altar in St. Peter’s Basilica is known as the Papal Altar because the Pope is the only priest permitted to perform Mass there. It’s located in the center of the basilica and was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the most noted sculptor of his time. It took 11 years to complete and was built over the tomb of St. Peter.

Standing over the altar is the Baldacchino, an ornate canopy supported by four spiral columns, and made with bronze said to be taken from the Pantheon. Bernini also designed this gem, as well as St. Peter’s Chair, a gilded bronze throne that encloses the original wooden relic, said to have been used by St. Peter himself.

Bronze Statue of St. Peter

A favorite of pilgrims to the site is Arnolfo di Cambio’s bronze statue of St. Peter. Sitting on his marble throne, he holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven in his left hand, while his right is raised in the act of giving a blessing. His right foot has been worn down by centuries of kisses and caresses.

Vatican Grottoes

Below the basilica is an underground level known as the Vatican Grottoes. Here you can find over 100 tombs, both modern and ancient, of various popes and monarchs. Some notable ones include the tomb of Christina of Sweden and the tomb of Queen Charlotte of Cyprus. There is even an empty tomb for Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013 and is not yet dead. Morbid!

The Treasury

This small museum (Museo Storico Artistico) hosts the treasury to the Church and contains many valuable and sacred artifacts, including a jewel-encrusted cross gifted to the emperor Justinian II. It’s accessed from the left nave and costs a small fee to enter.

Did you know that: (4 Interesting Facts!) 

  • The basilica was named for St. Peter, the leader of Jesus’ 12 disciples. He was sentenced to death by Emperor Nero and crucified upside down.
  • The location for the basilica was not chosen at random. It was built on the site of St. Peter’s crucifixion.
  • In 1950 human remains were found, underneath the altar, dating back to the 1st century CE. It’s widely believed that they belong to St. Peter himself!
  • The Holy Door (Porta Sancta) is only opened every 25 years by the pope. The last time was in the year 2000.


  • The original basilica was built in the 4th century under the command of the emperor Constantine, known for making Christianity the main religion of the Roman Empire.
  • It stood for 1200 years, before being demolished and replaced by Pope Julius II in 1506.
  • It took around 120 years to complete the construction and many prominent artists and architects worked on it. Donato Bramante created the original design but died in 1514.
  • Raphael and Antonio da Sangallo continued to work on the project, but little progress was made.
  • It wasn’t until Michelangelo took over, in 1547, that real progress was made. He simplified Bramante’s original plans and designed the impressive dome, the greatest architectural achievement of his life. Sadly, he didn’t live to see it built.
  • Carlo Maderno took over the project in 1605. He’s responsible for lengthening the nave and designing the magnificent facade.
  • The last major artist to leave his mark on the basilica was Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who added the final additions, such as the Baldacchino and St. Peter’s Chair.
  • Today, the basilica remains the most important building in Christendom and receives millions of visitors a year from both pilgrims and tourists alike.


What is St. Peter’s Basilica famous for?

St. Peter’s Basilica is famous for being one of the biggest and most important churches in the world for the Catholic church.

Is St. Peter’s Basilica free?

St. Peter’s Basilica is free to enter, however, you can expect cues of up to 2 hours. We recommend purchasing skip-the-line tickets to avoid the wait.

What is the difference between the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica?

The Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are different buildings and are not connected to one another, though they are both located in the Vatican City.

Map & Directions

St. Peter’s Basilica is located at the Vatican, to the North of Rome’s city center. It’s easily accessible by public transport.

Metro: Line A, stops ‘Ottaviano-S. Pietro Station’ or ‘Cipro’

Bus: 40 – Traspontina/Conciliazione

64 – Cavalleggeri/S. Pietro

32, 81, 982 – Piazza del Risorgimento

492, 990 – Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni

Tram: 19 – Piazza del Risorgimento

Train: San Pietro

St. Peter's Basilica map

Address: St. Peter's Basilica, Piazza San Pietro , 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City · view larger map