Or, something like that.  I consider myself an atheist, but I respect everyone’s religion and traditions. For years and years, I’ve been interested in history, art and the history of religion, so the Vatican always had a certain appeal to me. And what better way to say hello to God himself, than climbing up the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica – the greatest of all churches in Catholicism.

Catholic tradition claims that this very Basilica is the burial site of St. Peter, the first Pope, supposedly, St. Peter’s tomb is directly below the high altar of the Basilica.


As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age. The dome of St. Peter’s rises to a total height of 136,57m from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross. It is the tallest dome in the world, and provides a breathtaking view over the city of Rome, one of the main reasons my brother and I booked a tour with audio-guide to go up there ourselves.

The tour included a free elevator-ride up the ‘first floor’ – saving 320 steps – but if you want to be on the top of the cupola, you must take another 551 steps. Luckily we were in good shape!

After the brief elevator ride you can stop and enjoy the view from the gallery inside the dome looking down into the basilica. A-MA-ZING! We took a few moments to absorb the astonishing beauty of the cupola from within – and look down – the main altar. Don’t do this if you are afraid of heights. Really, just don’t!

My Brother did ..


The climb to the top of the dome proceeds through progressively narrower & sloping stairs. It can get a little bit tight, so if you’re claustrophobic or don’t like cramped spaces, please don’t go up here. Luckily for us, it was quite calm that morning, so it wasn’t that crowded.



Once at the top, you will be rewarded a breathtaking view .. Now I understand why people feel ‘close to God’ up here!

After letting all those beautiful views soak in, we headed back down, into the Basilica itself. But I’ll save that part for an other blog post ..

More about the St. Peters Basilica & The Vatican:

  • Opening Hours: 8u00 – 18u00 (Apr – Sep) 8u00 – 16u45 (Oct – Mar)
  • Price & Reservation: We paid 28 euros for a guided tour, booked here
  • Dress Code: St. Peter’s has a strict dress code: no shorts, no skirts above the knee, and no bare shoulders. And they are NOT kidding!
  • Other: They no longer allow you to take large bags or purses into the basilica, but there’s a a drop-off point for all bags in a room just to the right of the steps leading up into the church. This service is free. Small purses are allowed.