Best time to visit Rome

St. Peter's Basilica

The largest church in the world is a masterpiece of Renaissance art


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The St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano) in Vatican City, built in 1626, is the most renowned work of Italian Renaissance architecture in the world. Designed by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, it is regarded as one of the holiest shrines of the Catholic Church. The basilica is considered to be the burial place of Saint Peter, one of Jesus's Apostles and also the first Bishop of Rome. Saint Peter lies exactly under the high altar of the Basilica.

Visitors can access the Basilica for free, but the line is rather long. You have a chance to avoid crowds if you are there by 7 a.m. when the Basilica opens for the public. Another best time to visit St. Peter's Basilica is after 4 p.m. when the crowds are usually gone. Papal Audience takes place on Wednesdays so the basilica might be closed for visitors until noon or even later.

To complete your visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, you have to see the cupola—a stunning dome painted by Michelangelo. You can either take the elevator or steep stairs. If you manage to get a ticket, visit a mysterious Scavi underneath the Basilica where the access is restricted. It is also called the Vatican Necropolis, or St. Peter’s Tomb. This burial ground dates back to the 4th century. Visitors can also see the temple of Emperor Constantine, fountains and buildings. There is also the large crypt network called the Vatican Grottoes where many popes are buried.

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