St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano) is one of the holiest places on earth as well as one of Rome’s best landmarks. Located in the Vatican City, St. Peter’s attracts millions of visitors and pilgrims from all over the world every year.
The present structure is an architectural masterpiece, dating back to the 16th century. Most visitors are truly amazed by the size of St. Peter’s Basilica. Entrance to the church itself is completely free. The interior is a gorgeous example of Renaissance design, with contributions by master artists, including personalities of the likes of Michelangelo and Bernini. To be found at the center of the left and right transepts, Bernini’s Baldacchino is a bronze canopy covering the relics of Saint Peter and the altar. Photography is allowed in the basilica. The basilica is accessible by wheelchair and be advised that there is a very strict dress code for admittance.
On the northern side of the square, you will find an entrance that allows access to the dome and its roof. To reach the roof, you can choose between climbing the zigzagging 320-step staircase or taking the elevator. You can buy a ticket to ride the elevator to the top of the giant dome. Climbing the stairs to the top is completely free. Once at the base of the cupola, you can tour the gallery or go on up the stairs onto the roof, where really breathtaking views of the city await.
As for operating hours and days, during the months of April through September, St. Peter’s Basilica is open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The rest of the year, it opens at 7:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m. The Dome is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. from April to September, and the rest of the year its operating hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The Pope appears at the second window from the right of the Apostolic Palace every Sunday at noon, to bless the crowd in St. Peter’s Square and pray. There is no fee to pay and no ticket is required for this service.