Back in December, I spent three days in Rome and I must admit one of my favourite places that I had visited was St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. The iconic building towers above Rome, it’s been seen on TV and films (including The Young Pope, James Bond’s Spectre and Angels & Demons) and it’s the final resting place of every Pope since St. Peter.

I arrived on Saturday morning at around 9 am, the queue’s of people were building up in their numbers in St. Peter’s Square to gain access to gain access to the St Peter’s Basilica as well as explore the rest of the Vatican City. Luckily enough, because I was on crutches at the time, I was ushered to the front of the queue by security. Which meant I was able to cut my time by seconds instead of hours queuing up (every cloud has it’s silver lining). Upon first heading towards the Basilica, I was taken back by the stunning details in the architecture and detail, that made the building look so epic.

The Cupola

Rather than head to the main doors of the Basilica, I opted to head to the far right passing the Holy Door (The Portico) to the elevator which cost me €7 to take up to the top, which I thought this was a bargain as I thought I had skipped the 551 steps as I was on crutches (How wrong I was, “cheaters never prosper”). As came out of the elevator and turned into the cupola (The dome) which gave a choice of three different perspectives including the famous ceiling which has beautiful images of Saints and Angels and around the dome the words “you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church. … I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…” On the walls on the balcony, there are different mosaics that follow you along the balcony. Lastly, if you’re not afraid of heights you can look down at the ground floor and the people exploring below you (Don’t worry there is a cage that stops anyone from falling).

once I exited the interior balcony of the dome, I decided that I wanted to head further up, not realising that there were a further 320  steps. As I climbed these steps with my crutches and air boot, the stairway got much narrower and I was unable to turn back as there were people coming up behind me, I carried myself up the stairs, passing other people who were also wishing that maybe they had just got the lift back down, my body was literally crying tears (sweating) and although I was hoping they gave out free oxygen tanks at the top I pushed myself up those nightmare stairs. Finally, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and I stepped out into the fresh air, then I realised that I could the skylines of Rome from a 360-degree angle. The views included St. Peters Square, the Pantheon,  the gardens of Vatican City and the streets of Rome.

Once I had finally caught my breath, admired the views and given myself a pat on the back for surviving 320 steps, it was time to head back down another set of steep stairs (Although it was tempting to just stay up there forever rather than face the steps).

St. Peter’s Basilica Church

Once I had made it down from the dome, I had enough time to experience the main floor of St. Peter’s Basilica, which every single corner was filled with a statue of Popes and Saints past, one of those being the statue of the second Pope John Paul II enthroned where people would queue just to touch his feet. One of the most impressive centrepiece within the church had to have been the Baldachin by Bernini, which is a black canopy that towers over the tomb of St. Peter. It’s very gothic looking but has a lot of eye-catching detail, the same designer also created the Holy Spirit Window.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to explore The Vatican Scavi (also known as the Tomb of the Dead) or the Grotto’s this was due to having to be somewhere else at the time, but it is defiantly on my list of things to go back to Rome and re-visit. I hold my hands up and have to say that Rome was amazing and St. Peter’s Basilica should be on any tourist’s places to go list and if you were to really explore the whole of St. Peter’s Basilica you most certainly be there all day.

Tourist Information for St. Peter’s Basilica

Dress Code

This is strictly enforced as this is a place of faith and this applies to both men and women which include, no shorts, miniskirts or bare shoulders.

Disability Friendly

This is a yes and no answers as you can access the main church area of St. Peter’s Basilica and get the lift to the inner dome, there are some places that are restricted for those who struggle to work up and down stairs on their own.

If you suffer bad asthma or you have health problems that prevent strenuous exercise, it’s not recommended that you walk up to the top of the cupola.

Cost

  1. St. Peter’s Basilica is free to enter the main church
  2. There is a fee to get up to the Cupola (The Dome) is €5 to walk all 551 steps and €7 to take the lift the inner Dome, then you have the choice to walk a further 320 further.

Window of the Holy Spirit

The Baldachin by Bernini

Statue of Saint Peter by Arnolfo di Cambio 04

 

About The Author

LJ is the founder of Outside the Bubble UK, she will be releasing her first novel this year called 'The Secret Diary of a Hotel Entertainer', which is based on some of her experience as a hotel entertainer over the years. LJ has a passion for Travel and this year is preparing for her next big adventure, whilst also training for her first Triathlon

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63 Responses

  1. Only By Land

    There are some advantages to being on crutches, you get to be the front of the queue at theme parks too. Getting to the top of the St. Peter’s Basilica sounds a little stressful but you were rewarded by great views. The pictures you have posted from the dome are brilliant.

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      Yeah the queue jumping was the best part of it haha. But was a nightmare to hop around the cobbles of Rome. Thank you glad you like the photos.

      Reply
  2. Bhushavali

    St.Peter’s Basilica is just an amazing basilica to explore! Sadly I didn’t have time to climb up the cupola! I visited a couple months back!

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      I agree and can’t wait to go back to Rome, when I am back on my feet and off, of these crutches. If you ever go back its worth experiencing the cupola

      Reply
  3. Natalie

    We love, love, loved Vatican City with the kids. It inspired me to write a book on rome just for the kids. 🙂 A stunning place full of history…would love for everyone to get a chance to visit such an amazing place.

    Reply
  4. Diana

    The intricate detailing on the inside of the basilica is really incredible. I love the view from the top of the dome, and I’d definitely pay to go to the cupola. Thanks for mentioning the dress code too, I’m always bad about that. Would love to visit one day.

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      It’s worth it for €5 euro to walk all the way up or €7 to use the elevator is just something that seems worth while to go and people don’t actually take advantage off it! Yes, I am terrible for dress code wise especially if I know that it’s going to be hot.

      Reply
  5. neha

    This basilica is so beautiful. I am headed here in 2 months, can’t wait to reach and explore. Particularly love that dome with beautiful work on it

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      Yeah I am going back once I have off my crutches. Make sure you book tickets for attractions online before you go and to go Vatican city and climb to the Cupola and go to the tombs.

      Reply
  6. Samantha Sparrow

    This is such a detailed and helpful post. I’m heading to Rome next month, and your pictures and descriptions have got me more excited and helped me to make a decision about whether we go alone or visit through a tour. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  7. Sara Essop

    I visited St Peters Basilica in 2015. I have no idea how you managed to go up the stairs with crutches. It is a beautiful place and the view from the Dome is amazing.

    Reply
  8. Jackie Taylor

    St. Peter’s Basilica is so beautiful! Such stunning architecture and incredible history. I was last there when I was about 17, but I’d love to go back one day!

    Reply
  9. Elena (@TravelingBytes)

    You are so brave! Sightseeing on crutches is far from being fun. Even the perk of skipping the queue wouldn’t be enough in my book considering pain involved. Speaking of the Basilica, 360 Degree view from the top of the Dome is amazing. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      Lots of pain killers where involved , a lush hotel and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to go to Rome haha. I am glad that you enjoyed the post thank you for reading.

      Reply
  10. Chiera

    Man I get so excited by old european architechture! It’s what makes travelling in Eurpoe all the more awesome in my opinion! Looks amazing 🙂

    Reply
  11. Ria C

    It’s been 8 years since we last set our foot inside the beautiful Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican. It was summer that time so it was very crowded and we didn’t have the opportunity to check the upper area for a good bird’s eye view of the Vatican and surrounding city of Rome. Lucky you! Nice photos too! Makes me want to come back and visit again…

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      You should go back as the Bascilla has a little add on overtime there is a new pope, so it’s forever changing and there is always something new to discover.

      Reply
  12. Nikki

    I’ve never been to Italy or the Vatican City (obviously). It looks incredible, and I appreciate the tips you left in your post – I would imagine a lot of people wear shorts etc in the Summer, so that’s good to know. It looks stunning place to visit! <3

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      I am terrible if I think that I can get a tan it’s shorts and sleepless tops, so it’s always important if you are going some where to check the rules. The place was really beautiful.

      Reply
  13. stacey veikalas

    Stunning place and the detail in your article is just so awesome. Too bad you could not see it all but maybe next time you can and post some photos!

    Reply
  14. Swati & Sam

    Visiting the Vatican city has been on our radar for quite some time now. The 360-degree view from the dome looks stunning. St. Peter’s Basilica is such a beautiful place. The carvings, the paintings, and the dome are truly magnificent.

    Reply
  15. Yury Santos

    Vatican City looks like such a beautiful and holy city, I really cant wait to visit. Your pictures really capture the essence and beauty of all the intricate details

    Reply
  16. Emma

    I’m so glad I’ve found this post! I’m planning a long weekend trip in July to Rome, and never thought of visiting the Vatican City, but after reading your blog and those pictures are stunning, i will definitely be adding it to my itinerary!

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      You really can’t go to Rome without a visit to the Vatican City, there is so much to see and do there. I am glad you liked my photos.

      Reply
  17. ZeeGoes

    I could spend days taking in the beautiful art works within the city…#sigh. thanks for taking me back to a cherished travel memory 🙂

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      A weekend just wasn’t enough for Rome, two weeks would be a great amount of time to really explore the true Rome. Glad that you enjoyed the post. 🙂

      Reply
  18. Stacey

    Isn’t it the most beautiful place ever? I will never forget walking in here when I was 10 years old. Everytime I see pictures it takes me back. Great post and gorgeous shots

    Reply
  19. Raymond Carroll

    The view from the top of the Dome in St. Peter’s Basilica looks amazing, and high too – must have been difficult climbing the stairs on crutches. Well done! My sister lived in Italy in the early 2000’s and I always wanted to visit her but never quite managed it. Rome is still on my bucket list though, so maybe one day I’ll get there.

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      It was difficult but I needed the work out so I could sample the fine Italian cuisines and not feel guilty haha. You should but Rome on your list there is so much there to see and do and so history.

      Reply
  20. Clare

    I have visited St Peters Basilica and it is very impressive. I too climbed the stairs though luckily not with crutches!! The views from the top are amazing. It is truly a beautiful place 🙂

    Reply
  21. Aldrick Agpaoa

    The center of Catholic faith! Vatican has been always on my bucket list to my future European travel. This place is full of mystery and glory and I can’t wait to experience it myself!

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      You should go there are so many great places to stay there and Rome as well as the Vatican City has so much to offer and a lot of it is all free to visit.

      Reply
  22. Sonia

    The 360 degree view is lovely… we would really want to go here! Thanks for sharing tips on the dress code. The paintings and sculptures look stunning!

    Reply
  23. Soraya

    How lucky that you were on crutches and could skip the long line! I can only imagine how long you would have to wait otherwise, because this would be such a popular visiting place when in Rome. Well done though on being able to get up 320 stairs with your crutches AND boot! But it sounds like you had an incredible day – that architecture is just stunningly magical!

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      I must admit as annoying as the crutches where they did allow me to skip quite a few lines in Rome. Yes the architecture was amazing as there is something from almost every part of history there

      Reply
  24. Mohit

    The church looks so fascinating…the architecture is so amazing and you have shared all the information in such great depth

    Reply
  25. Noemi of Pinay Flying High

    Oh wow! I applaud you for making it to the top with the crutches! I have been to Rome twice and been inside the church both times but I’ve never gone up yet. The first time I went, I didn’t have the time to do it and the second time I was there, it was for work and I we didn’t have personal time to do what we like.

    I need to go back to Rome and see this. Thanks for the tip, I won’t be taking the lift. :p

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      Haha Rome is one of those places you need a lot of time to explore. I am going back there in June to finish off what I started haha.

      OMG haha even if I didn’t have crutches I’d still have gotten the lift half way up, so good luck to you climbing those stairs ;-p

      Reply
  26. Ashley Smith

    I LOVE St. Peter’s. And even though I’ve been there a few times I’ve never had the chance to climb the dome so that’s a huge goal of mine. And you did it on crutches! Congratulations on that. The views were clearly worth it!

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      It really is worth it, just make sure you have comfy shoes and a bottle of water as the way up is a difficult one with or without crutches.

      Reply
  27. Riely

    Ahh.. such great memories in Rome. I remember visiting St.Peter’a Basilica, but I don’t recall any steps for the beautiful view you described! Good thing my brother now lives there. I have an excuse to revisit and see these magnificent views.

    Reply
    • LJ Legend

      To be honest if you are just following the crowd around the barrier area its easy to miss, I only found it by chance. But for future reference its to the right before you into the main entrance.

      Reply
  28. Mel

    St. Peter’s Basilica looks amazing. The inside of the cupola is a gorgeous. And it looks like the view from the dome was worth the effort to get there. In traveling around Europe, we’ve found that churches, whether it’s on the dome or a tower, are such good spots to get a perspective on the city. Sounds like you need to plan another trip to see the Vatican Scavi and the grottos!

    Reply
  29. Brittany from Boston

    Oh this brings me back! I was in Vatican City years ago, and you’ve reminded me how beautiful and special a place it is. I was there during Easter week so we attended mass held by the Pope, which was such a special experience. I recommend trying to attend mass while you’re there too!

    Reply
  30. Janine Good

    The Vatican is such a delightful country to visit. I had a great time when there and can see why you enjoyed it so much. I never got the chance to get to the top and get such incredible photos as you! Wow what incredible views of the entire Vatican city! European churches are just such a delight to visit and I feel blessed when I’m inside.

    Reply
  31. Ticking the Bucketlist

    Wow..this looks stunning…the interiors of the church are so impressive! I have never been to the Vatican and hope to get there this summer. Good to know that one can enter free…but I will surely spend the EUR 5 and walk up the steps for the views. Thanks for sharing information on the dress code!

    Reply

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