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St Peter's Basilica

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St Peter's Basilica

I have been reading all the information on St Peter's and I know there is an elevator to the dome ,but are there also a lot of steps as well? Also where do you line up for entry to St Peter's? I am trying to make this trip enjoyable for all so I want to plan to avoid too many steps as they are difficult for one of our family. Also (one last question) I know it is free to visit St Peter's but is there a time limit or can you relax and take your time...we are travelling in January so hope the crowds will be slightly less than now.

Thanks

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1. Re: St Peter's Basilica

romanhols, I have good news and bad news regarding the dome. The good news is -- yes, there is an elevator. The bad news is, it only takes you to the base of the dome. You walk around the inside of the dome in the basilica (nice unless you're afraid of heights), then head outside briefly before going up the stairs. There is nothing to see at that level except the backs of the statues atop the basilica. There are about 350 steps to climb to get to the top of the dome. The steps inside are steep, and toward the top, you are literally leaning over because of the curvature of the dome. Interesting, yes, but not for those who have trouble going up a flight of stairs, much less 350.

To get into St. Peter's, you have to go through metal detectors. The entry point is on the right side of the basilica as you face it. Believe me, you will see the lines, although they won't be as bad in January as they are other times of the year. You cannot take big bags or backpacks into the basilica, but there is a safe and secure storage facility staffed by Vatican employees. You can spend as much time as you want in St. Peter's. Take your time and look around. St. Peter's opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. in the winter. The dome opens at 8 a.m. and closes at sunset.

If you have any interest in attending a papal audience on Wednesday (in January, they are held indoors in the Paul VI Audience Hall), or a Papal Mass, you will need tickets. They are free. You should probably request them a month in advance. Send a letter to: Archbishop James Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household, Vatican City 00120, Europe. The requests also may be faxed to the archbishop’s office at (39-06) 6988-5863. If you happen to be there on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, for example, there will probably be a papal liturgy, possibly for the ordination of bishops. Keep in mind there will be 30,000 people at any papal Mass and seating is first come, first served. There will be about 12,000 attending an indoor papal audience, also first come, first served. If someone is in a wheelchair, the group is given preferential seating. This should be mentioned in the letter to Archbishop Harvey. The audience starts at 10:30 a.m. and the doors open at 8. Tickets for either a Mass or audience are picked up the afternoon before (3 p.m. to 8 p.m.) just inside the bronze doors near the metal detectors to enter the basilica.

Enjoy Rome. Buon viaggio!

Tim

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2. Re: St Peter's Basilica

Good advice. But,I have to emphasize that I think there's lots to see on the Loggia roof,. So, if that's all one can do, go for it. Once you exit the elevator you can walk around the rooftop and, like one of the giagantic statues up there, you can look out over the piazza. I love that view. You can also visit one of the two small buildings on the roof that used to house workers. One is now a small and bare bar for quick refreshement, the other is a nun-run gift shop with all kinds of souvenirs, from small to large. Then, the best part, is that you can walk around the interior of the dome and look at its mosaics up close, and look around at all the other details, which are so small when you're looking at them from inside the basilica. And you can look down too, at all the art-struck visitors below. Just going that far is a completely unique experience.

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3. Re: St Peter's Basilica

Wow thanks for the great advice. 350 is really pushing it but I am glad that at least with the lift we can go part of the way and experience some of the view. I was just looking at a site about St Peter's and it looks so beautiful I cannot wait...thanks

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4. Re: St Peter's Basilica

When you visit St Peter's go over to the left hand side first. I think this is important. Going that way you will start at the Baptistry which is at the bottom left hand side. Follow up along the left side of the Basilica to the High Altar and work your way down along the far - right hand - side of St Peter's. Doing it this way you will finish up at the Pieta` which, of course, will be the highlight. Most people seem to start there but I think this is 'wrong'. Save the best wine for last is my idea!

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5. Re: St Peter's Basilica

Also, look at the floor in the center aisle (nave), You will be able to compare the size of St. Peter's to the major cathedrals of the world. You will see a star, the Latin name of the Church and its city, and the length of the nave in meters, which is measured from the area behind the Altar of the Chair to the entrance of St. Peter's. I always like to point this out to New Yorkers who are surprised by how small St. Patrick's Cathedral is. It can fit, spires includes, in an area from the back of St. Peter's to just pass the "confessio," the crypt-like area in front of the papal altar and the baldacchino. It is the smallest cathedral represented and was added by Pope Pius XII as a tribute to his good friend, Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbship of New York. It really gives you a sense of persepctive and the grandeur (including size) of St. Peter's.

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6. Re: St Peter's Basilica

There are 562 steps if you don't take the elevator, according to my 10 year old who counted the whole way up!

We could not get over the gift shop on the roof!! No one ever mentions that! What about money changers in the temple...

7. Re: St Peter's Basilica

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