Planning a trip to Rome? Then you mustn’t miss out on the largest church in the world: St Peters Basilica! In this church, that’s visited by millions of tourists every year, Saint Peter’s remains are displayed in a golden box in the crypt of the basilica, protected by bulletproof glass. You can visit the church for free, but keep to the dress code in mind and cover your arms and legs before you go in. For a fee you can take the elevator or climb the stairs to the dome of the St Peter – to get stunning views of the Eternal City.
Where the St Peter now stands, once stood a different basilica from the 4th century. It was built by Emperor Constantine, the first emperor in Rome who became a Christian. The construction of the basilica that we know now began in 1506. About hundred years later, the magnificent building was finished. Famous artists from those times who worked on it were Michelangelo and Bernini – when exploring the city you will see that Rome is full of works of art from their hands: architecture, sculpture, paintings… Michelangelo’s “Pieta”, a marble Mary sculpture, must be the most famous statue that’s located in the Basilica of St Peter.
After you’ve seen the basilica itself, it’s time to discover all the sites of interest around it. St Peters Basilica area offers many things to see and do, such as the Sant’Angelo Castle, the Vatican Museums and the Piazza Navona.
Explore St Peters Basilica area in Rome
The huge square in front of the church, Piazza San Pietro, was created in the 17th century and is an iconic landmark. It has an ellipse-shape, an Egyptian obelisk in the middle and features semi-circular colonnades on each side of the oval with 140 statues erected on top of them, plus there’s a fountain. (You might have noticed already that Romans are very fond of fountains!)
The Vatican is a must-see for any visitor of Rome. Watch our special video guide about this small city and number 1 attraction in town to learn more. Our recommendation is to take a guided tour as this place is overwhelmingly big – did you know there are 7 museums? Plus, it will allow you to skip the lines, which are always long and could take hours, especially in peak season.
Next there’s the Castel Sant’Angelo, which was originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, where both he and his family were supposed to be buried. You can find it on the right bank of the River Tiber. It had many functions: first as mausoleum for Roman emperors, then a prison, a refuge for popes, and now a museum and tourist attraction.
Last place we want to mention is the Piazza Navona, about 700 meters from the St Angelo Castle. Here you can see baroque fountains by Bernini, the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone or enjoy a delicious meal at one of the restaurants.