Cate Olin

Cate Olin

Modified & Updated: 11 Oct 2023


St. Peter’s Basilica, located in the heart of Vatican City, is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. Its grandeur and architectural brilliance have captivated visitors for centuries. But beyond its awe-inspiring beauty, there are fascinating and mind-blowing facts that make this basilica even more extraordinary. From its immense size to the stunning art and relics housed within its walls, St. Peter’s Basilica is a true testament to human ingenuity and artistic mastery. In this article, we will explore 16 mind-blowing facts about St. Peter’s Basilica that will leave you in awe of this magnificent structure and its rich history.

Table of Contents

The Basilica’s Impressive Dimensions

St. Peter’s Basilica stands as the largest church in the world, covering an area of around 15,160 square meters. Its majestic dome reaches a height of 136 meters, dominating the Rome skyline.

The Magnificent Dome

Designed by Michelangelo, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is a true masterpiece. Its construction took nine years to complete, and its impressive size allows visitors to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding city.

The Papal Altar

The altar at St. Peter’s Basilica is believed to be directly above the burial site of Saint Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic Church. It is a significant pilgrimage destination for millions of Catholics worldwide.

The Holy Door

St. Peter’s Basilica has a Holy Door, known as the Porta Sancta, which is only opened during Jubilee years. Passing through this door is considered a special act of devotion and can earn a plenary indulgence.

An Eclectic Mix of Architectural Styles

The construction of St. Peter’s Basilica spanned over several centuries, resulting in a unique blend of architectural styles. The building incorporates elements of Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical architecture, making it a visual marvel.

The Sculptures of St. Peter’s Square

St. Peter’s Square, located in front of the basilica, is adorned with stunning sculptures. The most prominent amongst them is the 4th-century Egyptian obelisk, topped with a cross. It stands as a symbol of the connection between Rome and ancient Egypt.

The Pietà by Michelangelo

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, visitors can marvel at Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, the Pietà. This extraordinary masterpiece depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother, Mary, evoking a sense of profound emotion and spirituality.

Treasures of the Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica houses an impressive collection of artistic treasures. From intricate mosaics to stunning frescoes, every detail showcases the dedication and talent of renowned artists throughout history.

Michelangelo’s Unfinished Masterpiece

One of the most intriguing aspects of St. Peter’s Basilica is Michelangelo’s unfinished work. The statues known as the “Prisoners” or the “Slaves” were intended to adorn the tomb of Pope Julius II but remain incomplete, providing a glimpse into the artist’s creative process.

The Baldacchino

Rising majestically above the papal altar, the Baldacchino is an elaborate bronze canopy designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Its intricate details and golden hues add an air of grandeur to the inner sanctum of the basilica.

The St. Peter’s Basilica Crypt

Beneath St. Peter’s Basilica lies an ancient crypt where many popes are buried, including the tomb of St. Peter himself. Visitors can explore this sacred space and pay tribute to the spiritual leaders who shaped the history of the Catholic Church.

The View from the Cupola

Climbing to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica’s dome offers an unforgettable experience. The panoramic view of Rome and the Vatican City from this vantage point is truly breathtaking, allowing visitors to appreciate the grandeur of the city.

The Swiss Guard

St. Peter’s Basilica is guarded by the colorful and iconic Swiss Guard. Established in the 16th century, this elite group of soldiers has the responsibility of protecting the Pope and ensuring the safety of the Vatican.

The Baptismal Font

Located in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Baptismal Font is a reminder of the sacrament of baptism in the Catholic faith. It serves as a symbol of spiritual rebirth and initiation into the Christian community.

The Resting Place of Popes

Many popes throughout history have been laid to rest in the hallowed halls of St. Peter’s Basilica. Each tomb tells a story of the church’s rich history and the influential figures who have shaped its traditions and teachings.

A Place of Pilgrimage

St. Peter’s Basilica holds immense religious significance, drawing millions of pilgrims from around the world. It is a place of profound spirituality and devotion, where believers seek solace and reaffirm their faith.

These 16 mind-blowing facts about St. Peter’s Basilica merely scratch the surface of its grandeur and historical importance. A visit to this extraordinary landmark is an opportunity to witness the embodiment of human creativity, faith, and cultural heritage.


St. Peter’s Basilica is a truly remarkable landmark that never fails to capture the imagination of visitors from around the world. Its awe-inspiring architecture, rich history, and religious significance make it a must-visit destination for travelers and pilgrims alike. From the stunning beauty of Michelangelo’s Dome to the sacred burial site of St. Peter, each aspect of the basilica leaves a lasting impression.As we explored the 16 mind-blowing facts about St. Peter’s Basilica, we discovered the architectural marvels, artistic treasures, and intriguing stories that surround this iconic landmark. From its massive size and exclusive status as the papal enclave to its hidden secrets and symbolic designs, St. Peter’s Basilica continues to inspire and captivate visitors with its grandeur.Whether you are an art enthusiast, a history buff, or a spiritual seeker, a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica promises an unforgettable experience. So, make sure to add this breathtaking masterpiece to your travel itinerary and immerse yourself in the wonders of one of the world’s greatest architectural achievements.


Q: How old is St. Peter’s Basilica?

A: Construction of St. Peter’s Basilica started in 1506 and was completed in 1626, making it over 400 years old.

Q: Can visitors go inside St. Peter’s Basilica?

A: Yes, visitors are welcome to enter St. Peter’s Basilica. However, there may be certain restrictions during religious ceremonies and events.

Q: Are there any hidden chambers or secret passages in St. Peter’s Basilica?

A: Yes, there are several hidden chambers and secret passages in St. Peter’s Basilica, including the Vatican Grottoes and the Scavi Necropolis. These areas provide unique insights into the history and architecture of the basilica.

Q: Is it possible to climb to the top of the dome?

A: Yes, visitors have the option to climb to the top of the dome for a spectacular panoramic view of Rome. However, please note that there are several stairs involved in the ascent.

Q: Are there any famous artworks inside St. Peter’s Basilica?

A: Yes, St. Peter’s Basilica houses numerous renowned artworks, including Michelangelo’s Pietà and Bernini’s Baldacchino. These masterpieces are a testament to the immense artistic talent of the Renaissance period.

Q: Can I attend a mass or religious service at St. Peter’s Basilica?

A: Yes, St. Peter’s Basilica holds regular religious services and masses, which visitors are welcome to attend. However, it is recommended to check the schedule in advance as there may be specific timings for each service.

Q: Is there an entrance fee to visit St. Peter’s Basilica?

A: No, there is no entrance fee to visit St. Peter’s Basilica. However, donations are appreciated to help with the maintenance and upkeep of this magnificent landmark.

Q: Can I take photographs inside St. Peter’s Basilica?

A: Yes, photography is allowed inside St. Peter’s Basilica, but tripods and selfie sticks are not permitted. Please be mindful of other visitors and the sacredness of the space while taking photographs.