St. Peter’s Basilica
Built on Vatican Hill and reputed as the world’s largest basilica of Christianity, St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed around 320 AD. A late Renaissance church, it is one of the four churches of Rome that hold the rank of Major Basilica. A pilgrimage for liturgical functions, it is located across the Tiber river. Built over a span of more than one hundred years, names of some of the greatest Italian architects of the era such as Michelangelo, Donato Bramante, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini are associated with the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Commissioned by the will of Emperor Constantine, St. Peter’s Basilica was the site where Saint Peter, the chief apostle, was buried in 64 AD. St. Peter is considered the first pope and was martyrized at this spot. Thus, the location of St. Peter’s Basilica is considered to be highly symbolic. The St Peter’s Basilica was consecrated in 1626.
The first repair project for the basilica was undertaken in the fifteenth century by pope Niccolo V, who entrusted Leon Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellino with the job. They were followed by Rafael, who was succeeded by Baldassarre Peruzzi first and Michelangelo later, who created a Greek cross. The Latin cross structure, as we see it today was realized by Maderno, under Paolo V.
In order to reach St. Peter’s Basilica, the best option for tourists is to first take any flight to Rome. There are numerous flights to Rome from almost all countries in the world. The Vatican is situated in close proximity to Rome. Thus, depending on their preferences, visitors can either opt for a taxi, bus, Metro or a tram to the Vatican. It should be kept in mind that tourists are not permitted to drive inside the Vatican without specific permission. From the Vatican city center, the most direct route to reach St. Peter’s Basilica is to cross the Tiber and walk straight up Via Conciliazioni.
Important Information And Tips
• Timings: St. Peter’s Basilica is open daily. The timings between April and September is 7:00-19:00 whereas the Church is open from 7:00-18:00 in the evening from October to March.
• Admission Fee: There is no entrance ticket to explore St. Peter’s Basilica.
• A dress code is strictly enforced and followed at St. Peter’s Basilica. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts are allowed and this applies to both men and women. So, visitors ought to be careful about their appearance when visiting St. Peter’s Basilica.
• The best time to visit the Vatican is around 2.30pm. This is because the afternoon is much quieter as the crowds have generally already cleared in the morning. Mondays and Saturdays are the busiest and crowded days as the Vatican is closed on Sundays. Due to his Papal audience, Wednesdays also tend to get packed.
• On Sundays at noon, the pope usually (if he’s in town) appears at the second window from the right of the Apostolic Palace, to pray the Angelus and bless the crowd in the Square. The current Pope, Benedict XVI has continued this tradition. Also, visitors should note that no ticket is required for catching a glimpse of the Pope.
To get a taste of Renaissance architecture at its zenith, do plan a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica!