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Visiting St. Peter's Basilica Virtually

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Imagine traveling to the Vatican City in Italy without taking one step. You are probably thinking "That's not possible!" Get ready for a virtual tour directly from home! By: Elisabell Velazquez

St. Peter's Basilica is located in St. Peter's Square. Serving as the center of the Vatican City in Rome, Italy, St. Peter's Basilica is the world's largest Christian church.

Virtual Tour

Due to the strange times in which we are living with the coronavirus pandemic, travel has been limited and people have had to stay in their homes. The anxiety to explore the world has increased as we remember beautiful memories of previous trips and admire pictures of the places we wish to go. Fortunately, during this day and age where technology rules the world, virtual tours are available to take us to our dream destination in just a few clicks. If visiting the Vatican City in Italy is in your bucket list, you will love watching this exceptional virtual tour that brings the surreal St. Peter's Basilica to your home.

An amazing aspect of this particular virtual tour experience is that the YouTube video contains time marks for each area within the church.

The virtual tour experience provided by Andy Teach is exceptional as it allows you to navigate through St. Peter's Basilica at your own pace. The video is accompanied with audio where the guide speaks about the history of the basilica and the details of each location within the church. This tour allows for navigators to easily find where they are and locate different destinations.

The virtual tour video created by Andy Teach features the history, art, architecture and overall significance of St. Peter's Basilica in a 30-minute clip.

History & Religion

Symbolizing one of the holiest centers of Christianity, St. Peter's Basilica serves of major importance for Catholic worshippers. The basilica is one of the most visited cathedrals all over the world. Not only is St. Peter's Basilica one of the largest churches in the world, but it is also where the pope presides the majority of the liturgies throughout the year.

During your virtual tour, you will learn about the history of the New St. Peter's Basilica. Why the New St. Peter's Basilica? Well, in order to understand the religious significance of the church, you must travel back in time to understand the origin of St. Peter's Basilica.

Photo credits: History of Circus

The Old St. Peter’s Basilica was originally the Circus of Nero and a cemetery.

Saint Peter was the first ever pope and was martyred around 64 A.D. under Emperor Nero's reign. Later, in 306 A.D. Emperor Constantine became the first Roman emperor to profess Christianity. Emperor Constantine erected a basilica on the Vatican Hill over St. Peter's tomb. The construction of the Old St. Peter's Basilica lasted from approximately 319 A.D. to 349 A.D.

St Peter’s Basilica, portrayed by Viviano Codazzi in a 1630 painting.

After lasting for approximately 1,000 years, Old St. Peter's Basilica began to diminish and weaken, leading to the construction of the New St. Peter's Basilica. With an estimated 120 years of construction, New St. Peter's Basilica was completed by 1626 and continues serving as a main destination for tourists visiting Rome, Italy.

Art & Architecture

From the interior and the exterior, the dome to the statues, the virtual tour video showcases the breathtaking construction of St. Peter's Basilica. With a combination of Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture, St. Peter's Basilica demonstrates the detailed work of great artists and architects such as Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donato, Giacomo della Porta and Maderno.

St. Peter's Basilica is filled with marvelous artwork. An interesting fact about the artwork is that what seems to be paintings in the interior of the church are in reality mosaics made of colorful glass that makes them seem like real drawn paintings. With beautiful marble floors and sculptures, examples of the masterpieces include Michelangelo’s Pietà, the baldachin by Bernini, the statue of St. Longinus, the tomb of Urban VIII and the bronze cathedra of St. Peter.

St. Peter's Basilica has a surface area of 15,160 square meters, which is enough space to accommodate about 20,000 seated worshippers or 60,000 standing.

The variety of art and architecture within St. Peter's Basilica is beyond one's imagination. If we can see the beauty of this site and have our jaws dropped by seeing a video of St. Peter's Basilica, imagine seeing it in person?

St.Peter's Square

Photo Credits: Massimhokuto

There are a total of 284 columns in a colonnade of four rows.

St. Peter's Square is also known as the Piazza San Pietro. Designed by Bernini in 1670, St. Peter's Square are two lines of massive columns where pilgrims pay their respects to St. Peter. Above the columns are 140 statues of saints. In the center of St. Peter's Square are two fountains and the obelisk. An interesting fact about the obelisk is that it was carried to Rome from Egypt in 1586. St. Peter's Square is truly the center of the holy sites of Rome, Italy.

Facade of St. Peter's

Photos from Getty Images

The Facade of St. Peter's was designed by Carlo Maderno.

The first stone of the Facade was laid on February 10, 1608 and by July 21, 1612, the Facade was almost completed. Carlo Maderno began building the facade with a goal of adding to the already existing Michelangelo's wings. As a result, he created the attic around the building, which was initially planned by Michelangelo. At the far sides of the facade, Maderno planned two bell towers which enlightened the building. However, in 1646, Bernini tried to erect the bell towers and had to demolish the left-hand side bell tower because of cracks in the facade, leaving only the bases of the bell towers remaining. The Facade was then restored from 1985 to 1986.

Michelangelo’s Pietà

Photo Credit: Bill Perry/Fotolia

The Pietà is protected by a slab of glass.

As you may already know, Michelangelo is one of the masters behind the art in St. Peter's Basilica. The Pietà is one of Michelangelo's sculptures featured in the church. Carved when he was only 24 years old, the Pietà is made of white Carrara marble. Michelangelo wanted to emit a feeling of mourning and sorrow as he depicted the Madonna with facial expressions of silent pain when Jesus died.

Bernini’s Baldachin

Photo Credit: Society of Architectural Historians

The baldachin is 98 feet tall and is held by four pillars.

Inside of St. Peter's Basilica is Bernini’s Baldachin, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for the altar of St. Peter. Each of the four columns sustaining the altar is approximately 60 feet high. The baldachin serves as an elaborate ornamental canopy and marks the tomb of St.Peter. The Baroque style is depicted in the baldachin as it is made of bronze, dating back to the Middle Ages.

The Papal Audience

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Pope's Window is where the Pope delivers his address to worshippers.

The Papal Audience refers to the gathering of visitors who listen to the Pope give his blessings from his window. Papal Audiences are typically held on Wednesday mornings at around 9:30am to 10:30am. The Pope may also be seen from his window on Sundays during mass.

The Dome

With a size of 140 feet in diameter, the St. Peter’s Basilica’s dome one of the largest in the world.

Michelangelo’s dome is one of the main architectural features of St. Peter’s Basilica. Rising 448 feet to the top of the cross on the lantern tower outside, an inner hemispherical layer lays in the dome’s double shell with a more pointed one on the outside. The dome is not only detailed in its architecture but the art within the dome creates a vivid illustration as it shows colorful mosaics depicting Jesus, Mary, Joseph, St. John the Baptist and the Twelve Apostles.

The inscription TV ES PETRVS ET SVPER HANC PETRAM AEDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM. ET TIBI DABO CLAVES REGNI CAELORVM curves around the inside of the dome in blue letters, translating to the biblical citation from Matthew 16:18-19 as: “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and to you I will give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.”  

If you are interested in climbing the dome, look for the entrance on the left side of St. Peter's portico. There are two parts to the climb. First, you go up the interior of the dome where you may see down into the basilica. The views are amazing as you may see the mosaics closely. In order to get here, you may either walk 231 steps or take an elevator. Now, if you wish to walk another 320 steps, you may arrive at the top of the cupola in a very narrow staircase. How exciting?!? The views are impeccable!

Entry Information

Admission to St. Peter's Basilica is free. However, if you are interested in climbing to the top of the Dome, there are different fees associated. For a lift to the terrace plus 320 steps, the price is 8 euros or $8.90. If you are climbing 551 steps by foot, the price is 6 euros or $6.70.

Although not mandatory, it is highly recommended to purchase the St. Peter's Basilica's tour tickets if visiting the church. The ticket packages include skipping the line and a self-guided audio tour for 19.5 euros or approximately $22.

According to St. Peter's Basilica Tickets, St. Peter’s Basilica hours vary depending on the season. 

From 1 April to 30 September, it is open between 07:00 AM to 07:00 PM.

From 1 October to 31 March, it is open between 07:00 AM to 06:00 PM.

The Basilica is open during the following times:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

  • From 8:45 am to 10 am.

  • From 10 am to 1 pm.

  • From 1 pm to 3 pm.

  • From 3 pm to 5:30 pm.

Wednesday and Sunday

  • From 1 pm to 3 pm.

  • From 3 pm to 5:30 pm.

Note: Once you are inside St. Peter's Basilica, you may spend as much time as you would like inside.

Dress Code

Photo from: The Culture Brite

The dress code not only applies to those visiting St. Peter's Basilica but also those who wish to enter the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Gardens

The Vatican is a sacred religious site. This means, when visiting St. Peter's Basilica, you must remember to abide by the Vatican City's dress code. Women, you must make sure to cover your shoulders and avoid shorts, short dresses and skirts. Men, you are required to wear long pants and at least a short sleeve t-shirt. In case you forget to pack appropriate clothes to wear to St. Peter's Basilica, you may purchase paper pants and paper scarves at local souvenir shops around the area.

Evaluating the Virtual Tour Experience

Wow! Did we just travel to St. Peter's Basilica and back? Sure seems like it! The virtual tour video guided by Andy Teach is educational, resourceful and easy to navigate. The video tour covers every possible aspect you may think of when visiting St. Peter's Basilica and makes you feel as if you were walking inside the church with the tour guide in the video. The video tour is very convenient in providing an insightful tour of St. Peter's Basilica. However, in addition to the virtual tour provided in this blog, there are many more types of virtual tours such as those that provide 360-degree panoramic views and interactive tours.

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