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The following information will answer most questions. 
St Peter's is free to enter and open everyday.
If you can't find your answer here, send an e-mail to:

Climbing the Cupola
Dress Code
Gift Shops & Restaurant
Grottoes (Tombs of Popes)
Information Office
Mass Schedule

Papal Event Tickets - Audience
Post Office
Reserve a Special Mass
Sacrament of Penance
Scavi Tour (Necropolis)

Seeing the Pope
Sistine Chapel

Tomb of John Paul II
Vatican Museum
Weddings at St. Peter's

St. Peter's Basilica: open everyday, Apr-Sep 7:00-7:00pm;
    Oct-Mar 7:00-6:30pm (For occasional closings Click Here)
Treasury Museum: Apr-Sep 9:00-6:15pm 
    Oct - Mar 9:00-5:15pm
Grottoes: Apr-Sep 7:00-6:00pm; Oct-Mar7:00-5:00pm
Cupola: Apr-Sep 8:00-6:00pm; Oct - Mar 8:00-4:45
Scavi Office: weekdays 9:00-5:00pm

Basilica Central Phones: +39 06 6988 3731, +39 06 6988 3462
    Fax: +39 06 6988 5518
Sacristy + 39 06 6988 3712
Parish Office + 39 06 6988 5435  Fax: +39 06 6988 5793
Vatican Switchboard + 39 06 6982
Wheelchair Access

Getting to St. Peter's Basilica
By Subway - This map shows the Vatican area and nearest subway stop. Take Linea A (red line) toward Battistini and exit at Ottaviano-S. Pietro. Walk south on Via Ottaviano toward St. Peter's Square.
By Walking - From the city center, the most direct route is to cross the Tiber and walk straight up Via Conciliazioni. A more interesting route is to go under the Passetto arch near Castel S. Angelo and walk up Pio Borgo, providing a more dramatic entrance from the right (north) side of the Piazza.

St Peter's Area Rome

Vatican Museum Area

Getting to the Vatican Museum (Vatican website)
If you're going to the Vatican Museum, you may NOT want to go to St. Peter's Square first.
By Subway - Take the Linea A (red line) toward Battistini and exit either at Ottaviano-S.Pietro or Cipro-Musei Vaticani. They're both about the same distance from the entrance.
Follow your map and the Vatican Wall to the entrance.
From St. Peter's - Exit the Square to the north and walk along the Vatican Wall (10-15 min.)

Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
- (Vatican website)

Hours - Closed on most Sundays and holidays, check the Vatican Website
Monday to Saturday 9:00-6:00pm (final entry 4:00pm)
Every last Sunday of the month 9:00-2:00pm (final entry 12:30pm

For Guided Tours of the Vatican Gardens, Villas or Archaeological Areas  - Vatican Website

Many people still come to St. Peter's Square looking for the entrance to the Museum. The roof of the Sistine Chapel can be seen from the Square, but it's a 10-15 min. walk, north along the Vatican Wall, to the museum entrance. Modest dress is required.
To avoid the long queue, book a "Skip the Line" ticket online from the Vatican Museum.

Mass Schedule for St. Peter's

8:30 - Blessed Sacrament Chapel In Italian, with homily, followed by Eucharistic Adoration
9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 - Altar of St. Joseph (Left Transept), In Italian, with homily
5:00pm Altar of the Chair  (Cattedra) In Latin, with singing, homily in Italian

Eucharistic Adoration in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel is from Monday to Saturday.
Adoration follows the 8:30 mass until Benediction at 4:45pm

Sunday and Holy Days
9:00 -  Altar of the Chair  (Cattedra) - Mass for the Parish, in Italian, with homily
10:30 - Altar of the Chair (Cattedra) - Solemn Mass in Latin, with singing, homily in Italian
11:15 - Blessed Sacrament Chapel - In Italian, with homily
12:15 -  Altar of the Chair (Cattedra) - In Italian, with homily
1:00pm - Altar of St. Joseph - (Left Transept), In Italian, with homily
4:00pm -  Altar of the Chair (Cattedra) - In Italian, with homily
4:45pm - Vespers - Altar of the Chair - sung in Latin
5:30pm -  Altar of the Chair (Cattedra) - In Italian, with homily

In addition to public masses, visiting priests have early private masses at side altars,
at 7:15 and 8:00 from Monday - Saturday.  Reservations are made for private masses, and for masses held in the grottoes.

English Masses
There are no scheduled masses in English at St Peter's.
For a list of English masses in Rome use this custom Map.

See also:  The American Community in Rome

Sacrament of Penance (right transept)

Approach the attendant at the right transept (far right of the papal altar) and indicate that you want to enter for confession. The attendant can direct you toward the language of your choice, which is indicated on the wooden confessionals.

7:00 to 12:30 and Apr-Sep 16:00 to 18:00; Nov-Mar 15:00 to 18:00

7:00 to 13:00 and Apr-Sep 16:00 to 18:00; Nov-Mar 15:00 to 18:00

Papal Event Tickets

Tickets for Wednesday General Audience with the Holy Father can be obtained in several ways. You go to St. Peter's Square, clear security, find the Bronze Doors to the Apostolic Palace, and request them from the Swiss Guards.

If you want tickets far in advance, have a large group, or require Papal Mass Tickets, try one of the following resources. Note: Christmas and Easter Papal Mass tickets are difficult to obtain.

Prefect of the Pontifical Household, is the office in charge of distributing free tickets for Papal Masses and celebrations.  You can write them at: Prefecture of the Papal Household, Vatican City 00120. Call Ph: + 39 06 6988 4857; or Fax: + 39 06 6988 5863
Tickets are picked up at the Paul VI Audience Hall.

US Visitors Office to the Vatican This office was setup to assist US Visitors. They have a limited supply of tickets for Papal Celebrations
Via dell' Umiltá 30, 00187 Rome, Phone: + 06.6900.1821  Fax: + 39 06 679 1448 Email:

The American Church in Rome, has a website that allows you to request tickets for the Wednesday Audience online.

Vatican Calendar of Papal Celebrations

Dress Code

The Dress Code is strictly enforced at St. Peter's Basilica. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts. This applies to both men and women. Even if you get through security, you will be turned away by the attendants at the door. On a hot summer day, I've seen men in shorts turned away.

Vatican Post Office

This is a great place to send a send a post card home, or collect stamps. There are three Post Office locations in St. Peter's Square; along the Charlemagne Wing (left side), just beyond the colonnades on the right side, and stand alone Post Office in the Square. Items must have Vatican postage and be mailed from the Vatican.

Climbing the Cupola

Hours: Apr - Sep 8:00 - 6:00pm,  Oct - Mar 8:00 - 4:45pm
Cost: 10 Euros for elevator, 8 Euros for stairs

At the entrance to the basilica, there is a sign that directs you to the right of the portico (past the Holy Door) and to the kiosk for the elevator.  I highly recommend the elevator, as there is nothing to see along the stairs, and it's a long walk.  The queue for the cupola can get very long, and the tickets are not sold online.  It is possible to skip the line by booking a tour with Vox Mundi.

If you're with someone who doesn't want to climb the 320 steps to the top of the dome, they can still take the elevator to the roof, enjoy the view from the gallery inside the dome looking down into the basilica, and then visit the gift shop and restaurant, while the others make the climb. If you're overly energetic, you can take the stairs that winds around the elevator to reach the roof.

 After you enter the interior gallery at the base of the dome, you have the option of climbing up the cupola or exiting to the roof level. If you make the climb, you'll pass several small windows that provide a view. At the top you receive the views so often seen in photographs. See if you can spot Rome's other great dome, the Pantheon.

Back on the roof, you have access to restrooms, water fountains, a gift shop and a restaurant. Take a walk to the front of the basilica to look into the Square and observe the huge statues on the facade. When you're ready to depart, there is again the option of elevator or stairs. Along the walls of the stairs are historical inscriptions listing some noble people who visited the cupola of St. Peter's Basilica.

Gift Shops and Restaurant
There are many gift shops in and around St. Peter's, and a snack bar on the roof.
Without going through the security queue to enter the basilica, you can access the gift shop on the left (south) side of the Charlemagne Wing. There is also a book shop here, near the basilica exit. 

Inside the security area of the basilica, a gift shop is located on the right of the atrium (north), just past the Holy Door.  This area is called the Gregory the Illuminator Patio.  It contains the cupola ticket kiosk, exit from the Grottoes, and exit down from the Sistine Chapel.  Fair warning: This area can get very crowded.

The gift shop at the entrance of the Treasury Museum is easier to access.  Just go under the Monument to Pius VIII, follow the signs for the Sacristy and Museum.   This is a nice area to visit even if you aren't shopping, and you can see the famous Colonna Santa for free. 

The largest gift shop is on the roof, next to the only snack bar.  Access to the roof is only by paying for a ticket to the cupola.  A 'skip the line' tour is available.  This is a great area to visit, even if you don't want to climb the 320 steps to the top of the cupola. 

This area on the roof has the sign 'refreshment', and only offers drinks and a few sandwiches.  However, there are a few tables and it's a welcome rest stop during a lengthy tour.

Grottoes (Map)

The Vatican Grottoes is the level below the floor of St. Peter's where many popes and a few royals are buried. Below the Grottoes is the ancient Necropolis (seen on the Scavi tour), which is the Roman "city of the dead" and excavations of St. Peter's tomb.

The Grottoes is accessed by stairs below the St. Andrew statue near the papal altar. The exit is to the right (north) external side of St. Peter's, near the cupola kiosk. This area is now called the St Gregory the Illuminator Patio.

One of the highlights of the visit is the view into the confessio, the area in front of St. Peter's tomb. The Niche of the Pallium, with the bronze urn containing the woolen stolls given to new Archbishops, is often mistakenly thought to hold the bones of St. Peter.

Information Office

The Information Office is on the left (south) side wing of St. Peter's, often called the Charlemagne Wing. This area is accessed by several doors and has a Post Office on the far (west) end and the information desk on the near (east) end. This is where you can ask about the free tour given at 2:15pm by the seminarians.


There are three main restroom areas. Along the Charlemagne Wing (left side), beyond the colonnades on the upper right side, and in the bag check area on the lower right side of the facade of the basilica. The bag check area has the newest restrooms, and the only ones that can be used without exiting security. From here you can rent the audio tour of the Basilica. 

Weddings at St. Peter's

It is possible to get married in the Chapel of the Choir at St. Peter's Basilica.
To arrange a wedding, start by contacting the Parish Office.

Scavi Tour (St. Peter's Tomb)

This 90 min. tour into the Excavations of the Necropolis (City of the Dead) underneath St. Peter's, is one of the most interesting in all of Rome, but you must book well in advance. Start by going to the Scavi Website. There is a request form online.
Fax + 39 06 6987 3017

You'll need to email the Excavations Office the number of visitors, names, language, contact info in Rome, and time period desired. Try to be flexible on the dates and times. Groups are limited to apx. 15, and no children under 11 are allowed.

The office is accessed on the left (south) side of the colonnade, through the Sant' Uffico gate.
Go through security, show the Swiss Guards your reservation and say Scavi.

Information on the Necropolis is found in Margherita Guarducci's book "The Tomb of St. Peter"

Seeing the Pope

On Sundays at noon, the pope usually (if he's in town) appears at the second window from the right of the Apostolic Palace, to pray the Angelus and bless the crowd in the Square. Benedict XVI has continued this tradition, no ticket required.

Otherwise, you can attend the Wednesday 10:00am General Audience held in St Peter's Square. In winter, or bad weather, the audience is held in the Paul VI Hall accessed just to the left of the Square (Sant' Uffico gate). Tickets are required for the Audience, but are easily obtained. See Papal Event Tickets

Sistine Chapel

People still come to St Peter's Square and ask how to get to the Sistine Chapel. This is the wrong entrance. The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums and that entrance is a 10-15 min. walk along the Vatican Wall from the Square. (See: Getting to the Vatican Museum). You can however, from the Square, see the roof of the Sistine Chapel that emits the famous black or white smoke during the papal elections. It's the angled roof just to the right of the basilica, but the stove pipe is removed after the conclave.

Tomb of John Paul II

The tomb of John Paul II was originally in the grottoes below the floor of the Basilica. This spot was previously occupied by the tomb of John XXIII, who's body was moved up into the basilica. In 2011 John Paul II was declared Blessed, and his body was moved up into the basilica and placed under the Altar of St Sebastain.  The webcam for his tomb is HERE.


The are many ways to take a tour of St Peter's Basilica, but beware of the sketchy people in the Square pushing 'skip the line' tours. Most of these are just overpriced tours of the Vatican Museums that exit into the basilica.  It is possible to skip the line if you book with the official tour service to the basilica, Vox Mundi.  

If you like doing it yourself, then print out our one page walking tour, and give it a try.
If you want to try a free tour, check at the Information Desk near the Post Office to see if the seminarians are giving a 2:15pm tour.  This is only available when the students are in school, and you must go through the security line.

The Vatican has now designated an official tour service, Vox Mundi.  You can book a guided tour online or rent an audio walking tour.  Tours are offered for the basilica (apx 1 hour), Mosaic Studio, and Necropolis (Scavi Tour). Vox Mundi has desks in the bag check area to the right of the basilica, and in the Atrium as you enter the basilica. 


Reservation for Private Mass

Visiting priests in Rome may reserve a private early morning mass at a side altar in the basilica.  These masses can only be held at 7:15 and 8:00am, and you will be assigned and escorted to an available altar.  Alb, chasible, lectionary in your language, and other objects are provided.  Reservations are made with the Sacristy: tel. +39 06 6988 3712
Reservations for groups can be made for the chapels in the Grottoes, 7:15 and 8:00am.
Large groups and diocesan pilgrimages must contact the Vicariate directly to make arrangements for celebrations.
Fax: + 39 06 698 855 18; Tel: + 39 06 698 81496

The size of the Grottoes Chapels is as follows:
Clementine Chapel  (apx. 10 people)
Central Altar  (apx. 50 people)
Mexican Chapel  (apx. 6 people)
Lithuanian Chapel - Our Lady Mater Misericordiae  (apx. 25 people)
Madonna Bocciatta  (apx. 6 people)
Madonna Partorienti  (apx. 10 people)
Irish Chapel  (apx. 25 people)
Polish Chapel - Our Lady of Czestochowa  (apx. 20 people)
Patron Saints of Europe  (apx. 20 people)
Hungarian Chapel  (apx. 35 people)
Madonna between Peter and Paul  (apx. 5 people)

Closings at St Peter's Basilica
The Basilica will be closed for tourists during Papal Celebrations and other events.
It is closed every Wednesday morning when the General Papal Audience is in the Square.
It opens up at approximately 12:30pm on Wednesday.
A Papal Mass at the Basilica will cause a delayed opening or early closing.
Check the calendar of Papal Events
The Basilica may be temporarily closed unexpectedly, (example, Heads of State visit)
The best source for up to date Opening Hours is the Vox Mundi Website 

Links - Vatican

Practical Information - Vatican
Vatican website - Basilica Papale San Pietro (Italian)
Vatican State website - St Peter's Basilica (English)
Papal Basilicas and Chapels
Papal Schedule -
Tickets for Papal Events - Vatican Preffettura
Necropolis - Tomb of St Peter - Scavi reservations
Virtual Tour of the Scavi
Vatican Museums
Liturgical Celebrations
Papal Angelus
Homilies of the Holy Father
Papal Blessings
Swiss Guard
Photografic Service of L'Osservatore Romano
Campo Santo Teutonico - Cemetery  (German)
Catacombs of Rome
Vatican Library
Vatican Publishing House
Photo Galleries - Vatican
St Anne Parish in the Vatican
Vatican News Service
Office of Papal Charities

Links - External
Vox Mundi - Official Guides to St Peter's
U.S. Visitors Office to the Vatican - PNAC
San Pietro - Churches of Rome Wiki
St Peter's Basilica - Wikipedia
St Patrick's American Church in Rome
U.S. Embassy to the Holy See
Missionaries of Divine Revelation - Vatican Tours  General Catholic Information
Saints in Rome

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