Instawalk: St. Peter’s Basilica

given my ill-fated attempt earlier this week, i returned on a day i knew (or, strongly hoped i knew) the basilica wasn’t closed, and i’m glad i made that decision. again i was there shortly before 8 AM and it was so empty — it felt almost private at times. (LOW SEASON! — that’s totally my mantra for this visit to Rome. love it. the weather, save for a rainy day yesterday, has been amazing, and the crowds relatively non-existent.)


They were in the process of clearing chairs away. I’m not sure if these were left over from the Wednesday Papal Audience or something else. That building about 2/3 of the way across sticking up over the colonnade is where the Pope lives.

an added benefit of it being the cooler season (cool = high of 63°F today) is that you don’t have to bother to remember to bring clothes to change into or cover up with for entry into the basilica. i can’t imagine many people are being turned away due to dress code violations this time of year (or at least i’d hope not).

on the ground


Colonnade, St. Peter’s Square


Facade of St. Peter’s Basilica


The lavish ceiling


The main dome and altar


A little angel


Not a draw-ring


One of the side chapels


They were in the process of either clearing out or moving in chairs, I assume for a mass. Much of the main altar and apse, as well as some side chapels (including JP2’s tomb) were closed off, some for ongoing religious services.


Did I mention lavish? I can just imagine this pope saying, “Look at my lavishness!”

climbing the dome and cupola

i was doing well for time (i had to keep checking because i was sort of on call for work) so i decided i should climb the dome. the entrance is back outside (the entry line splits to the basilica on the left and the dome on the right) — just exit, make a left to get back to the split, and get into the dome line. (in my case, there was a line of all of three people.) i’m not sure how easily this is done if there are lots of people crowding to get in, so if it looks bad and you want to do both parts, you can do the dome first as the exit drops you right back into the basilica proper.

i paid the extra 2 euro to take the elevator part way. at my age, climbing the remaining 323 steps is quite enough, thank you.


The elevator takes you to the roof, and a short climb inside later you’re in the dome.


Looking down onto the main altar, you can see the closed off sections occupied by chairs. Astute observers can even make out the guy on the floor cleaning machine just to the right of the bronze canopy.


The dome and the next stop, the cupola!

Climbing up

Through one of the windows on the climb up to the cupola. That modern building with the solar panel roof, I have discovered, is the Paul VI Audience Hall.

You have to walk sideways!

You can’t very well climb up a dome without having to walk askew.

Made it to the top!

St. Peter’s Square from above

The Vatican and Rome beyond. If I'm not mistaken that slanted rectangle at the bottom right is the Sistine Chapel.

The Vatican and Rome beyond. The large complex of buildings in the foreground comprise the Vatican Museums and if I’m not mistaken that closest slanted rectangular building with the triangular roof is the Sistine Chapel.


The statues from the basilica’s facade, from behind

yep, that climb was so worth it! i can’t imagine what it’s like when it’s hot, stifling, and crowded, though. wear your deodorant, watch your bags and pockets, and get ready for maximum squishiness?

Panorama from the top of St. Peter's Basilica

2 Comments on "Instawalk: St. Peter’s Basilica"

  1. Great post…..great photos……

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