Saint Peter’s Square

What a splendor greets you as you arrive at Saint Peter’s Square! However, if you visit in the height of summer, be prepared for a long wait before entering the basilica, as the queue can be daunting and last for hours. Alternatively, like us, you can enjoy the square with its shops, mostly selling religious souvenirs. Towards late afternoon, about an hour before the basilica closes, miraculously, the queue tends to dissipate!

When Bernini was commissioned to design Saint Peter’s Square in 1656, the requirement was for the Pope to be visible to all from the balcony. The result is this elliptical-shaped square surrounded by two colonnades in a semi-circular arrangement, each adorned with statues of approximately 140 saints. At the center stands the Basilica of Saint Peter. You can catch a glimpse of the Pope on Sundays at noon from the balcony, but arrive early! You might be surprised by the crowd and the devotion of the Romans towards their Pope.

Saint Peter’s Basilica

Constantine, the first Christian emperor, decided to build a basilica on the site where Saint Peter had been buried. In 1629, Bernini transformed the basilica with numerous Baroque decorations, including the central baldachin.

Saint Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world. Pay attention to your attire—shoulders must be covered, and no short skirts or shorts are allowed. Upon entering the basilica, you’ll be dazzled by its beauty. The dome, rising 136 meters high, is entirely painted and adorned. The massive baldachin stands at the center, and the openings in the dome allow mystical light to filter through. If you wish, you can pay an additional fee to visit the tombs of the popes and, like us, climb the 330 steps inside the structure for an incredible view of the city. At the top, you’ll also find a small shop selling religious souvenirs run by nuns, which is much more affordable than those on Saint Peter’s Square.

The Vatican Museum

Once again, prepare yourself for patience when visiting the museum! Especially during peak season! It was so crowded that we had to jostle our way through to see the artworks, or even catch a glimpse of them! I must admit, despite the beauty of the place and the artworks, we did not fully enjoy the visit because the crowds were overwhelming and unregulated. In peak season, this visit can become quite a trial, but it’s still a must-see, especially not to miss the Sistine Chapel!

If you go during the off-season, take your time and admire the sculptures, paintings, ceilings, and the magnificent (though quite small) Sistine Chapel with its wonderful ceiling painted by Michelangelo.

About Author

We are Sophie, Adrien, and our two adorable little ones. Passionate about travel, discovery, and gastronomy, we bought a 2007 Rapido camper van to travel differently, travel more, and introduce our children to the world. Here, we share our wonderful discoveries and tips for activities to do with children in France and beyond ! Welcome !

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