St. Peter's Dome

  • St. Peter’s Dome is the dome that covers St. Peter's basilica, one of the most exceptional religious and historic sites in Rome, Italy.
St. Peter's Dome

St. Peter’s Dome is the dome that covers St. Peter's basilica, one of the most exceptional religious and historic sites in Rome, Italy. Rome is a city of wonders in terms of architectural buildings as well as its natural landscape. St. Peter’s Square, just outside the basilica, is where the most important Catholic Masses and occasions are celebrated. It is here where the newly elected pope appears to the rest of the world for the first time. St. Peter’s basilica also houses several papal tombs, among many other Catholic relics. This site is incredible, both in it interior and exterior.

Another incredible feature of St. Peter’s Basilica is the Dome. This is the largest dome in the world and it is a marvel of architecture. The dome is also referred to as the cupola. The dome ascends above the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica and it is extravagantly embelished with mosaic and ornaments. It is supported by four main structural piers with a height of 120m and a perimeter of 71m; starting from the ground to the roof of the lantern.

There are huge letters on the gold background, from St. Veronica to St. Helen, stating: “Hinc una fides mundo refulgent” (From here a single faith shines throughout the world); and from St. Longinus to St. Andrew: “Hinc sacerdotii unitas exoritur” (From here is born the unity of the priesthood). There are several other verses as well and all these gigantic letters (2 meter high) are lit by the light from 16 large windows.

The dome is divided into 16 ribs and into many segments by majestic figures on 6 ascending concentric levels. The levels are as follows, starting at the bottom: busts of the 16 popes buried in the basilica; the majestic figures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, and other Apostles; the angels bearing the instruments of Jesus’ Passion (in the rectangular frames); the faces of cherubim and seraphim in circular medallions; the angels, the custodians of St. Peter’s tomb; and additional faces of winged angels.

The most interesting experience is climbing up the dome. It has 551 stairs and that is why if you are not very energetic it is recommended to take a lift; or else you will spend hours just climbing the dome. It costs around 7 Euros to take the lift. Once you reach the basilica, you will see a queue to climb the dome; this is because there are many people climbing up the dome every day. Queue in the line and get your climbing ticket. After getting the ticket, you will be guided either to the stairs or the lift depending on your choice. Paying for the lift is worthwhile as after a short while you will already be at the top of the dome. You can get outside the dome, where you can see a panoramic view of ALL of Rome. It is a spectacular view with magnificent and breath-taking sites.

If you are planning to visit Rome, put St. Peter’s Dome in your list  “must see” sites. There are guided tours by professionals who will take you to all places in and outside the dome and give you comprehensive explanation of every detail of the dome. Climbing St. Peter’s Dome is a lifetime experience.
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