Results 1-10of 34 Reviews
Mont Albert North, undefined, Australia
August 1, 2004
The church compared itself favourably with other churches around the world. Larger than Westminster Abbey.... they had a mark on the floor to indicate the distance from the entrance of Westminster Abbey to the altar. It was well inside the church entrance!
Some popes were arranged in glass cases in alcoves around the church. Their faces were covered with either wax or silver masks. Strangely, not all popes were accorded this privilege. Some were buried under the floor in catacombs marked by a circular cover. No one could explain why some got the wax treatment whilst others were given the silver service.
Still, as an example of how to spend absolutely obscene amounts of money on interior decoration, St Peter's Basilica has to top the list (followed closely by the Sistine Chapel).
If you are not completely churched out, this one is a must see! (Along with the Sistine Chapel, also in Vatican City.)
From journal Rome in a rush!
Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
July 27, 2007
The Vatican and St Peter's is the centre of Roman Catholicism, and St Peter's architectural matches its re-position. Its dome is one of the key features of the Rome skyline and it can be seen from many places across the city. Its grandeur is enhanced by the large Piazza that is in front on the Basilica, and is edged with a covered colonnade. At the centre of the piazza is a obelisk that is 13th century BCE and was moved to Rome in Nero's reign as emperor and later placed here.
The emperor Constantine had a church built here in around 330, but this was replaced as work began on the new basilica in 1506 and completed in 1623 with several architects, including Michelangelo being involved in its design. The result is a magnificent building that is considered the largest Church building in the world and has a capacity of over 60,000.
The interior of the building is elaborate and there is a sense of immense space. There are a great many statues and monuments, including Michelangelo's marble carved Pieta which is close to the entrance, but this has a protective glass shield.
There is free entrance into the basilica, however there are strictly enforced regulations about dress in that shoulders and knees must be cover. It is also possible to visit the tombs of the previous popes under the church, but I would probably skip it unless you are especially interested. Note if you do visit the grottoes the exit from this takes you outside the basilica, so make sure you explore the interior of St Peter's before you go. It is also possible to climb the dome for 5 euros, but there is often a long queue to do so, and so we skipped it.
The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, is open but it is as the sign states "Only those who wish to pray may enter" and thus it is a place of peace and stillness for many visiting Catholics. There are also regular masses said in St Peters several times a day - details can be found on the website www.vatican.va. And just for fun why not send a postcard from the Vatican City which is a separate country governed by the Pope. It has its own post office and you'll postcard will get a Vatican City postmark.
I'm not a Roman Catholic but I can appreciate St Peter's importance for millions of Catholics. But Saint Peter's is still an inspiring place that is well worth a visit no matter what your religious views are.
From journal Glimpsing Rome
by Jose Kevo
October 18, 2001
I'm not Catholic so I wasn't sure what to expect - religious or tourist experience? Aside from this being home of the Pope and a place seen often in various outlets of the media, this was simply one more stop on the jam-packed list of attractions I felt compelled to see while in Rome.
After poking around St. Peter's square which was heavily corridored off with only lanes for passage, I tried entering the Basilica...only to be sent back out and to a lower area right of the entrance. Everyone must check backpacks, purses, bags, etc. at no cost before entering so you might want to consider wearing something with extra pockets for camera, film, etc. they allow you to carry in. I also can't remember, but I think this same policy was also in affect at the Vatican Museum.
The Basilica could definitely win the title for "Church of all Churches" except it didn't have that feel once inside. The atmosphere was almost as chaotic as found around Piazza Venezia with the hordes of people milling about; even their quietest whispers and shufflings echoing within the cavernous interior. This may all be sounding disrespectful to Catholicism, but I found the indoor "circus atmosphere" even more disrespectful; especially with smaller mass services being conducted in various chapel settings.
I came here after touring the Vatican Museum so my mind was still blurred from "art overload" not to mention my lack of knowledge of Catholocism. But for those who do, there's a gazillion things to be seen. Frescoes inside the smaller cupolas and the great dome are definitely worth looking up for, and other works of Michaelangelo, Bernini, and noted artists are scattered about...though darkness makes flashless photography all but impossible.
There was quite the line waiting to descend into the grottoe-burial areas, but don't let it discourage you. Once below, the areas open up allowing you to leisurely or quickly pass the countless crypts, tombs, prayer altars and such including where St. Peter, himself is presumed to have been buried.
I can't imagine having came to Rome without touring The Vatican, but I didn't expect to leave with a "Been there - Done that" type of feeling either.
From journal CRASHCOURSE - Modern Day Gladiator 101
November 30, 2000
From journal Italy: Rome
London, United Kingdom
June 6, 2008
From journal Rome in September
by Zoe travelwriter
Norwich, United Kingdom
April 22, 2003
I am not a religious person by any means but I could not help but be moved by the splendour and richness of the architecture of the chapel of St. Peter and the domed basilica, famously decorated by Michaelangelo. The first thing that struck me was the size of it: 448ft high in the dome and the 715ft length of the nave. I found myself standing with my mouth wide open.
The sense of history is incredible. Started in AD61, it was in the process of being added to and refined until 1626. I don’t profess to know anything about Rennaissance or Baroque art but I was incredibly impressed nonetheless.
From journal Weekend in Rome
Cinnaminson, New Jersey
October 6, 2002
Now let’s take the elevator down to the bottom of the cathedral. It is truly grandiose with amazing statues, several by Bernini, paintings by Italian masters including Raphael (copy of "Transfiguration" is here on one of the side walls) and of course the altar over St. Peter’s tomb with the 66-ft bronze canopy (baldacchino) on black and gold curvy columns. The design of the columns so typical of Baroque is repeated on the 4 sides in the ornaments near the ceiling. There is also Bernini’s golden window with the dove in the center, and sun’s rays coming out of it in all directions, designed to overwhelm the viewer and it certainly achieves that. Also here is the famous Michelangelo’s "Pieta" which is now behind the thick glass since the statue was damaged in 1972. Look at how small Christ is compared to Mary’s body. Michelangelo shows all the despair and misery that she is feeling seeing her son sliding away from her.
The floor of the cathedral is gorgeous laid out with ornamental stones of different colors and is best seen from the cupola. Underneath are the grottos with graves of various cardinals, including the grave of St. Peter himself.
From journal Italy in May - Rome, Part II
Basilica open: daily May-Sept 7:00 am – 7:00 pm, Oct-Apr 7:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Treasury open: daily May-Sept 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Oct-Apr 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Dome open: daily May-Sept 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, Oct-Apr 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.
To get to the cathedral from the Vatican Museums: As you exit the museums keep walking to the right along the tall wall until you reach the square. All the guides tell you to avoid bus 64, which is famous for pickpockets.
The square in front of the cathedral is truly amazing in size. The 284 columns with statues of saints on top forming half a circle on each side. The symmetrical fountains on each side of the square. I always thought that the cathedral façade and columns are white, but it’s not true. They are of this very light yellowish shade. The square and the cathedral were designed by Bernini and the cathedral has such great proportions that it looks much smaller from the outside than it really is. The new addition to the square are the luggage conveyors and security guards.
Start your visit by getting up to the cupola, the mosaics are gorgeous. While you are standing in line (and there is always line to the elevator to get to the cupola), check out the mosaics along the walls, they are in great shape. Once you get to the top, first check out the view of the city – there is the Victor Emmanuel memorial, so close that you can almost touch it. If you want you can climb up the stairs to get to the very top of the cupola, but that wasn’t part of my trip. Inside the cupola, you can see the mosaics upclose, measure the size of the angels’ feet – from the floor they look very small but up here these tiny cupids are enormous.
Continued in Part II...
December 2, 2001
The view of St. Peter's Basilica began three blocks away as we walked on Via delio Conciliazione, the street leading from Castel Sant' Angelo to the Vatican City. The basilica formidably sat in all its wonder and awe, showing more detailed majesticness as we approached St. Peter's Square.
At night, the basilica is lit and the square is guarded by Vatican City police. Even though areas were barricaded off, we were able to walk through sections of St. Peter's Square for a closer view of the building exterior.
During the day, only one entrance on the right of the building is open for admittance to the basilica. On Wednesday and Sunday, there were checkpoints and metal detectors set up prior to entering the area surrounding the church. I was asked to check my backpack in at the base of the basilica.
View the external of the church to assess the size of this building. Then enter the church and take a few moments to again assess the size. People at the other end of the church barely appear. The enormity of the structure is fascinating. Immediately to the right is Michelangelo’s Pieta, behind a plexi-glass barrier. People were crowded in this section of the church and the wait to be up front was worthwhile.
We slowly walked through the various sections of the church. Small chapel areas are equally as elaborate as the church. One chapel was exclusively for private prayer, creating a peaceful environment of silence and solitute. A section towards the front was roped off for confessions, with the option of six different languages. Only people seeking this sacrement were permitted in this area.
We spent the better portion of two days visiting St Peter's Basilica. We were also looking for specific statues and tombs: ones identified in our guide book as well as suggestions from our tour group. The tombs of prior Popes, especially St. Peter's, took time for our viewing and prayers.
On Sunday mornings, a Latin Mass is offered at the back of the Basilica. Plan on arriving at least one hour before Mass begins to get a seat. Additionally, private Masses are celebrated in the smaller chapels at 7:30 in the morning. We were very grateful for our opportunity to participate in a Mass at St. Peter's.
Entrance to the "Tombs of the Popes" is also free and is accessible by a flight of stairs over by the statue of St. Longinus. The only exit from the Tombs left us outside the Basilica, so we should have left this for last.
Tours are available, although we did not do so. I believe we may have missed out on some of the historical significance of some statues and/or paintings not referenced in our book. We did not view the Vatican treasures either. Entrance to that musuem was about $4, but we simply ran out of time.
From journal Pope John Paul II
For going to the top, ticket info is kind of misleading since it cost L7,000/$3.50 to take the stairs all the way, or L8,000/$4.00 to take an elevator part way. For St. Peter's sake, splurge and take the elevator for the short ride because there were STILL 320 grueling steps to the top even more gut-busting than climbing the spires of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Stairways were steep, narrow, leaning inward, crowded and stuffy - especially with the "out of breath" types who stop to smoke another cigarette!
Between the elevator and atop the dome, you'll enter inside at the base of the dome for magnificent views of below as seen in this entry's photos. But also look up to get a clearer, more indepth view of Michaelangelo's detailed interior work on the dome.
The circular observation deck gives a superb 360-degree view over Rome worth every huff-and-puff step it took to get you there. Width of the deck is narrow further compounded by support arches which impede traffic flow. Be patient and wait your turn to grab an uninterrupted, up-front view against the railing's edge from any of the viewpoints...and be content to gaze about until you've had your fill. From the backside, you'll also see the expansive Vatican Gardens; something you're likely not going to walk through, so look and enjoy it while you can. I certainly could have spent more time here if the crowds hadn't been so thick and the breezes so much cooler and gustier.
Once coming back down the steps, you'll come into an upper terrace area that allows you to walk out across the rooftop of the Basilica. It's a nice open-air, uncrowded breather after coming down as well as adding many unique vantage points in and around The Vatican complex.