Discover the St. Peter's Basilica with TravelVatican.com
The over 2000 years old St. Peter's Basilica is located within the stone walls of the Vatican. It is believed to be the resting place of Saint Peter who was both one of Jesus' apostles and the first Bishop of Rome. Many popes, including the first one, were also buried in this huge ancient house of religious worship. Over 60,000 people can stay in the basilica at the same time, more than in any other in the Christian world.
Pilgrims travel from all over the world to visit this magnificent place and pray within its walls. But St. Peter prominence is not restricted to its religious holiness a center of attention for many reasons. It has great historical, cultural, social, archeological and artistic value. It plaid a role in the counterreformation movement and kept Michelangelo's hands busy for many years.
The first thing that strikes most visitors, be they Catholic or not, is the seemingly endless magnitude of the place. St. Peter's enormity is almost beyond description. It mounts over those who enter it, filling them with almost unbearable owe. Many words can be written or said of the place's religious atmosphere, the structure's majestic charm or the artistic masterpieces that lay within its walls, but nothing can prepare you to the emotional upheaval caused by the sheer magnitude of this structure.
For a small sum of money, you can take an elevator up to the roof. Once you're there and assuming you're healthy and fit, you can climb the 323 steps that lead to the dome's top and look down at the breathtaking view. Once you recollect your strength, you can go down into the crypt and visit the tomb of Pope John Paul II that will lead you out the front.
There are free daily tours leaving from the information desk in set times of the day. Especially for believers, joining a daily mass offers a powerful experience. Remember that this is a holy place and keep a conservative dress code - no short skirts, sleeveless T-shirts or overexposed outfits are allowed. Women will perhaps be asked to cover their heads with scarves and men are required to take off their hats as they enter.
As long as you're "in the area", don't miss the chance to see Piazza di San Pietro, which is right next to the basilica itself. If you want more information regarding these sites, try the excellent VaticanState.va for details.