Can’t Miss Gems of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

Nestled in the glamorous and ancient city of Rome is Vatican City. Vatican City, probably most noted for its association with the seat of Catholicism and home of the Pope, is loaded with other antiquities, architectural beauties and loads of classical and renaissance art. One of the most stunning of these renaissance masterpieces is St. Peter’s Basilica.

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It helps to have a little history about the place you must visit so you know exactly where to look. I like to do a little research before. I use my research to decide if it would be helpful to have a tour guide (I bought my ticket here). Let me tell you, St. Peter’s is more than meets the eye.

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History of St. Peter’s Basilica

The St. Peter’s Basilica is actually the second building to honor the martyrdom of St. Peter. Nero killed Peter around 64 A.D. Around 313 A.D. Emperor Constantine allowed Christians to build memorials and places of worship. During the time when the Popes left Rome, nearly 1000 years later the original St. Peter’s Basilica was falling apart. It wouldn’t be until the middle of the 15thcentury when Pope Nicholas V, contracted Bernardo Rossellini, to draw up plans for improving the basilica. It would not be until the 16th century when the major changes to the building would begin under the skill of architect Donato Bramante at the direction of Pope Julius II.

The building you see today took over 150 years to complete. Unfortunately, none of the first basilica remains but the location. Many masters worked on the building, architecture over these years and you will see their fingerprints all over the building.

But there is more than meets the eye when it comes to St. Peter’s Basilica. That is, there is more than just the façade and nave to gawk at.

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Standard Tour Itinerary

Of course you want to spend time in awe upon entering this church. However, there is more. Seriously, consider investing in a tour, you don’t want to miss the details of these gems.

  • Vatican Grottoes – Located below St. Peter’s are grottoes which house tombs of kings, queens, saints and popes. You can even see Peter’s tomb. In addition there are frescos to view.
  • Peter’s Treasury – Is a treasure trove of valuables, often gifted to popes but royalty. Here you will see ornaments, statues, papal miters and other holy collectables.
  • Pre-Constantinian Necropolis – This truly ancient city of the dead houses various tombs dating from the 2nd century B.C. These tombs are covered with ancient art frescos.
  • Peter’s Square – Obviously, walked through to get to the basilica. This area has been touched by the genius of Bernini in the mid-1600’s. The building and completion of the square has been adjusted over time and can be explained best by tour guides with historical knowledge to point out all the details.

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St. Peter’s Basilica is a treasure within the treasure of Vatican City and Rome itself. Because of the rich history over 1000’s and 1000’s of years, plan well so you don’t miss the life changing experience that is Vatican City.

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  1. Carlota Caballero says:

    Hi, we will be in Rome next month. There are 4 of us. We want a tour to St. Peter Basilica, Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. Which tour should we buy and from who? We would like the skip the line one and if possible one and if possible picked up at our hotel – Spagna Ave. In the alternative, we could also meet at a place. Please help, we are overwhelmed with websites and not sure which to buy. Visiting Oct 19-22

    • David says:

      Hi Carlota, I hope you were able to figure it out!!

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