During this 45-minute tour, you’ll reach the top of the tallest dome in the world and take in a view over Rome that cannot be surpassed – with the monuments of the Roman Empire in the distance as you stand beneath the cross that draws pilgrims to this iconic church.
A masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, many artists lent their hand to it, but the final design of the dome is from Michelangelo. This is just one of the many reasons why it is one of the most significant monuments in the Christian world.
Dome Climbing Experience of St. Peter’s Basilica
Begin in St. Peter’s Square, where the dome rises above the rooftops of Bernini’s colonnade. Your expert English-speaking guide will take you the base of the dome so you can start your climb.
They will take you by elevator to the first balcony viewing platform. You are now inside the basilica, high above the altar and the canopy created by Bernini. This is a view that few get.
Take in the sights below while your expert English-speaking guide points out the details around you. If you look up towards the dome lantern, you’ll see the highest image of God in the Vatican. Michelangelo’s windows in the dome allow sunlight to shine on the exquisite blue and gold mosaics of the walls. The Latin words which surround the dome are from the gospels and are over six-feet high.
Having your guide with you here will help you understand their meaning for the popes and answer any questions you may have.
You are then given free time to enjoy the rest of your experience, where most then enjoy a solo climb up the spiral staircase to the top of the dome. There are 320 steps that will take you to the top, but once you are there the views are breathtaking. This second viewing platform is 446 feet high, which is the highest point in the Vatican!
The views from here go right around the dome. Looking down one side you’ll see the long lines which cross St. Peter’s Square as pilgrims line up to enter the basilica. On the other side, you’ll see the green bursts of color from the Vatican Gardens which help the popes relax. In the distance, you may be able to make out the Pantheon that was one of the inspirations for the dome. Enjoy your time up here and get those photos to prove that you made it.
No need to line up again into St. Peter’s Basilica
When you leave the top, you’ll end up inside the basilica on the ground floor. There is no need to join the lines that will have grown since you started your climb of the dome. You’ll be free to explore the treasures inside this beautiful building.
Of course, your guide will already have covered what to see inside the basilica. The information leaflet given by your guide will also help you find all the highlights in the basilica.
These include the papal bees, the statue of St. Peter worn down by pilgrims and Michelangelo’s Pietà. You will know exactly where to find his signature, the only one he left in his career. As a result of your climb, you’ll have a much better understanding of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Intimate Groups with Vatican Experts
Very few people can say they climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica Dome. To make it more than a workout, you’ll have an expert English-speaking guide with your small group, who will unfold the story of the basilica for you. It’s a fascinating monument, so you might miss many of the amazing details without a guide by your side. You’ll discover the impact of the dome on later churches and similar structures as far away as Capitol Building in Washington.
During this climb, we limit your group to max 25 people. This will give you plenty of time to ask questions and get to learn about the basilica in a new light.
Upgrade Your Climb to Include a Crypt Visit
Make your experience of St. Peter’s Basilica complete by adding a guided tour of the basilica and the Vatican Crypts. After reaching the very top of the Eternal City, your guide will take you down to the ground floor of the basilica. They’ll take you around the vast aisles and treasures like the Holy Door. You’ll also go underground to explore where the sacred sarcophagi of the popes have lain for centuries in silence.