Saint Peter's Basilica Self-Guided Tour

from €19.50 EUR
Duration: 1 Hour
 Seller: St. Peter’s Basilica (Authorised Seller)
9.370 Reviews

Save time at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, famous for its long entrance lines. With fast track gain access to, you will save up to – and frequently more than – one hour to get access to the most important Catholic church worldwide.

Enjoy a St. Peter’s visit completely flexibility and at your own pace utilizing your own smart phone or tablet. Just download the audio-guide app using the instructions provided on your booking voucher and discover the 31 sights your audio-guide points out.

What's Included
  • Enjoy limitless time inside the Basilica with an audio-guide on your cellphone (Spanish, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian).,
  • Download of the official audio guide,
  • Use of a devoted entrance line,
  • Support with complimentary wifi and toilet facilities at the St. Peter’s Basilica meeting.
What's not Included
  • Entryway ticket (the entryway in the basilica is free),
  • Earphones (bring yours or acquire them at the desk for EUR 1).
Cancellation Policy

Free cancellation up to 1 day before tour starts.

Useful Info

In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine (312-337) erected the first basilica on the spot where St Peter had been buried. If we believe the accounts, it was immense, and its facade glowed with mosaics. In the ninth and tenth centuries, the church served as a magnificent setting for the coronations of Holy Roman Emperors like Charlemagne, Charles the Bald, and Otto I. But by the 1300s, after a thousand years of existence, this venerable edifice stood on the verge of ruin.

Reconstruction was unavoidable. The task fell to lulius II (1503-1513) from the early 1500s. He accepted the plans drawn up by Bramante, who had conceived the idea of crowning the basilica with a dome like that of the Pantheon. Work was interrupted by the deaths of lulius and his architect, but resumed in the pontificate of Paul III (1534-1549). Michelangelo, a former pupil of Bramante, was appointed architect-in-charge.

Resuming his master’s design, he abandoned the idea of a flattened cupola and set to work on a huge drum that would dominate the skyline. He died in 1564, his masterpiece unfinished; it was finally completed by Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana at the end of the century. But by then the Counter-Reformation was in full swing, and in church design the Latin cross had become the norm.

Saint Peter's Basilica Self-Guided Tour

Saint Peter’s Basilica Self-Guided Tour

Paul III therefore employed Carlo Maderna to lengthen the nave and redesign the facade, arousing lively criticism since Michelangelo’s dome was now partly masked. The Basilica was eventually consecrated on 18 November 1626, to mark the 1,300th anniversary of the consecration of Constantine’s church. Bernini had only just managed to complete the famous Baldaquin, whose dizzy height and unparalleled richness of decoration distinguish the high altar where only the pope is entitled to say Mass. Later, Alexander VII (1655-1667) asked Bernini to decorate the apse.

It was there that the artist placed St Peter’s Chair. Above is a ‘gloria’ showing the triumph of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Seen from the nave, the work is framed to perfection between the twisted bronze columns of the Baldaquin which Bernini had set in place some thirty years earlier.

Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome - Saint Peter's Basilica Self-Guided Tour

Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome – Saint Peter’s Basilica Self-Guided Tour

The overall effect is a stupendous Baroque paean to the glory of the Church Universal. In a few decades, Bernini had transformed the interior of St Peter’s into a grandiose theatre of marble and gold. All in all, the construction of the world’s largest basilica had taken more than a century and a half. It extended over twenty or so pontificates and required the service of some ten architects.

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