San Pietro

The Piazza San Pietro (St Peter’s Square) is an important landmark in an area that will leave you breathless. St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is a majestic building, known for its surrounding semicircular Baroque colonnades, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, that seem to draw its visitors from around the world into a warm embrace. On one side of the colonnade lie the Security points, passed upon entering, and on the other side is the Vatican post office which, as part of an autonomous state, has its own coins and stamps.

Legend has it that the Basilica rests right above the tomb of the apostle Peter, who was executed by crucifixion in about 60 AD. During the Constantine Empire, which recognised Christianity as its official religion, the construction of the building began, and was completed 11 years later.

It was only in 1506 that Pope Julius II decided to build a new Cathedral, entrusting its creation to the architect and painter Bramante. The old Basilica was destroyed, and it took over 100 years to see the final result of what the Pope had intended to be the largest cathedral in Christianity.

Today, the San Pietro Cathedral is a 130-metre-tall, 190-metre-long masterpiece, containing some of the most famous artworks in the world: from Michelangelo’s Pietà to Bernini’s Baldacchino.

Here, believers from around the world gather for Mass and the Angelus prayer, led by the Pope, but also for the memorial services dedicated to the deaths of the popes, their funerals and the elections.

Some useful information:

St Peter’s Basilica is open every day from 07:00 until 18:30 (until 19:00 during the summer season).

Do I need to book?

No, the visit is free and it will require at least a couple of hours.

How much does it cost?    

Entrance to the Basilica is free. However, it is possible to walk up the 231 steps to the roof of St Peter’s Basilica or take the elevator. Entering and climbing the stairs will cost 8 euros, and taking the elevator will cost 10 euros.

Castel Sant’Angelo and the Passetto

If you find yourself in Rome, in the Lungo Tevere Castello area, it would be unforgivable not to walk towards the stunning Ponte degli Angeli to visit the famous Mole Adriana, better known by Romans and others, as Castel Sant’Angelo.
Walking along the corridors of the 7 different levels of the castle will take you on a journey of over 2000 years. You’ll see it all: from ancient Rome (125 AD), when Castel Sant’Angelo was the mausoleum of the emperor Hadrian, to its medieval use as a fortress to defend the city from external attacks, to the sumptuous papal apartments of the Renaissance, up to the museum of today.

A few years ago it was made possible once more to take the “Passetto di Borgo“, the famous walkway that connects the castle to the Vatican Palaces, well-trodden over the centuries by Popes on their way to their private apartments, but above all to ensure an escape route in case of danger.
As well as the Passetto, you can visit the historical Prisons, the Oliare, the rooms once used for food storage, the courtyard of Leone X, the longtime bakery ‘del Forno’ and the tiny bathroom of Pope Clemente VII, famous among other things for its wall paintings from the workshop of Raffaello Sanzio.

Fancy a little treat?
From July 2014 onward, entrance has been free on the first Sunday of every month.

Some useful information: :
Castel Sant’Angelo is open every day from 9:00 to 19:30.

Do I need to book?
It depends, booking costs 1 euro, and is recommended for groups of over 20 people and for school trips, but it’s optional for individuals.

How much does it cost?
Full price: 14 euros
Reduced rate (for those aged between 18 and 25): 7 euros.

Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is widely thought of as the heart of the Apostolic Palaces, one of the most extraordinary artworks ever conceived by man, and probably the pinnacle of the artistic production of the Western world.
The hall in which the Holy Spirit reveals the name of each Pope to the Conclave, will leave you breathless, not only thanks to the back wall, the Universal Judgment by the genius Michelangelo, but with the other “paintings” displayed on the other three sides by Botticelli, Perugino and Ghirlandaio. It’s the beating heart of the Roman Catholic Church, a true sanctuary that every human being should visit at least once in their lifetimes. The Sistine Chapel is included in a great tour, that also takes you to the Vatican Museums and Gardens, which are a must-see for every tourist visiting the Eternal City.

Here you will find one of the most incredible artistic collections in the world, a set of incomparable artworks, accumulated by the Popes over the centuries (just think, the total value of the artworks is around 15 billion euros). The works of art and sculptures are exhibited on a surface of over 14 kilometres, in a path that winds through different historical periods, from ancient Egypt to the twentieth century. Immerse yourself in the timeless beauty of the works of Renaissance masters: Raphael ‘s masterpieces in the rooms of the same name, which made up the entrance to the papal apartment, and those of Michelangelo in the other rooms. Don’t miss the portraits of past Popes, the Round Hall and the impressive Gallery of Statues.

Fancy a little treat?
Click here to find all the information you need to organise your trip from home, avoiding the long queues for tickets that you would definitely have to face otherwise, and letting you focus on enjoying the magnificence of the museums.

The Vatican Museums (and the Sistine Chapel) are open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 18:00 (be careful, last entry is 16:00!), but they are closed every Sunday, except for the last Sunday of the month (with entry free from 9.00 to 12.30 with closing at 14:00).

Do I need to book?
You definitely will, at www.museivaticani.va unless you want to come face to face with the longest queues you’ve ever seen.

How much does it cost?
Full price: 17 euros
Reduced rate: (for those aged between 18 and 25 years): 8 euros.