St. Peter’s Basilica: The Marvels Beyond the Main Altar

St. Peter's Basilica Marvels

St. Peter's Basilica: The Marvels Beyond the Main Altar

Welcome to the heart of the Vatican City, where St. Peter's Basilica stands as one of the most magnificent architectural and religious wonders in the world. While the entire basilica is a masterpiece of Renaissance art and architecture, today, we'll take a closer look at the marvels beyond the main altar, which hold a rich history and significance.

As you step inside St. Peter's Basilica, your eyes are immediately drawn to the awe-inspiring main altar, but there is much more to explore in this sacred place. Let's delve into the wonders that await you.

The Papal Altar

The main altar, located directly above the tomb of St. Peter himself, is a breathtaking masterpiece. Crafted from a variety of precious materials, including bronze and marble, it stands as the focal point of the basilica. Adorning the altar is the Baldacchino, a massive canopy that stretches nearly 100 feet into the air. Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, this work of art is a testament to the grandeur of the Vatican.

St. Peter's Tomb

Beneath the main altar lies the final resting place of St. Peter, one of Jesus's twelve apostles and the first pope. St. Peter's tomb is a site of immense significance for Catholics worldwide, and it is here that the pope performs the annual "Scavi Tour" for the public. The tomb is adorned with golden decorations and serves as a place of pilgrimage and reflection for countless visitors.

The Chair of St. Peter

The Chair of St. Peter, or the Cathedra Petri, is another vital component of St. Peter's Basilica. Located in the apse of the church, this massive bronze throne is elevated above the Papal Altar. It symbolizes the spiritual authority of the pope as the Bishop of Rome and successor to St. Peter. The chair is not only a symbol of the papacy but also a work of art, created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century.

The Statue of St. Peter

Within the basilica, near the main altar, you'll find the colossal bronze statue of St. Peter. It is customary for visitors to touch or kiss the right foot of the statue, believing that this act imparts a special blessing. The statue's toe is visibly worn from centuries of veneration, a testament to the enduring faith of pilgrims from around the world.

Chapels and Artwork

St. Peter's Basilica is also adorned with numerous chapels and artworks that are worth exploring. The Basilica's chapels are dedicated to various saints, each adorned with stunning frescoes and sculptures that narrate their stories. Don't forget to visit the Chapel of the Pieta, where Michelangelo's masterpiece depicting the Virgin Mary holding the lifeless body of Jesus is displayed.

The Vatican Grottoes

Beneath the basilica, there are the Vatican Grottoes, an extensive network of chapels and tombs that contain the remains of many popes and significant figures in Catholic history. It's a fascinating journey through time and a unique way to learn about the history of the Catholic Church.

St. Peter's Basilica is not only a place of worship but a treasure trove of history and art. Beyond the main altar, its many wonders, from the Papal Altar to St. Peter's Tomb, the Cathedra Petri, and the Vatican Grottoes, offer a rich tapestry of experiences and insights into the history of the Church. Whether you come as a pilgrim or a tourist, the basilica's marvels are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Rome: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Tour

Discover the best of the Vatican City on a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. Gain in-depth insight into historical artifacts and stunning architecture.


See the highlights of the Vatican City on a convenient guided day tour. Enjoy a fascinating journey through the vast collection of the Vatican Museums, including Michelangelo's iconic Sistine Chapel. Afterward, visit St.Peter's Basilica and admire its awe-inspiring architecture. Benefit from skip-the-line entry to the Vatican Museums.


Explore the Vatican Museums and learn about the vast collection, including masterpieces like Laocoön and His Sons, Apollo Belvedere, and Belvedere Torso. Walk through famous galleries such as the Gallery of Maps. Marvel at Michelangelo's vivid depictions in the Sistine Chapel.

Enter St. Peter's Basilica to discover sculptures and artworks, including the famous "Pietà" and "Baldacchino." Enjoy the flexibility to explore the papal tombs or the dome at your own pace after the tour.


Important Information

What to bring: Passport or ID card for children

Not allowed: Shorts, Sleeveless shirts

Know before you go:

Customer Reviews

Overall rating: 4.5/5 based on 103 reviews

Review summary: Value for money 4.2/5

Recent Reviews

Excellent tour! Andrea met us at the meeting point and was so friendly and helpful. We learned some Italian from him! Roberta was a fantastic crowd, expertly moving us through the crowds, giving us interesting information, and making the tour very educational and fun. It is crowded, even in October, but worth it!

Our Vatican tour was amazing. Our guide, an archaeologist himself, was able to share fantastic insight into the Vatican and help us navigate the Basilica and Galleries. And while it is impossible to see everything, our guide ensured we saw as much “of the important stuff” as possible.

Our guide was Fred and he was excellent, very knowledgeable, presented the information with humor, and engaged with everyone really well. This was a really great tour with a knowledgeable and interesting guide. The skip-the-line tickets were definitely worth the money.

Hidden Artifacts Beyond the Altar: Unveiling Rome's Treasures

Rome, the eternal city, is renowned for its rich history, captivating architecture, and artistic treasures that date back millennia. While many visitors flock to the city's famous landmarks such as the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Roman Forum, there are hidden artifacts beyond the altar that are equally captivating and worth exploring.

When we talk about hidden artifacts beyond the altar in Rome, we are referring to the often-overlooked historical and artistic gems found in churches, basilicas, and religious sites throughout the city. These hidden treasures provide a unique glimpse into the past, offering insights into the art, culture, and spirituality of ancient Rome.

The Vatican Grottoes: A Subterranean World of Splendor

Located beneath St. Peter's Basilica in the heart of Vatican City, the Vatican Grottoes are a labyrinthine series of chapels, crypts, and tombs containing some of the most remarkable treasures of the Catholic Church. As you descend into the depths of this sacred place, you'll encounter exquisite sculptures, ancient relics, and the final resting places of popes and dignitaries throughout history.

The Vatican Grottoes are not just a religious site but also a repository of art and history. Among the highlights are the stunning Pieta by Michelangelo, the tomb of St. Peter, and the breathtaking Chapel of the Madonna of Partorienti. These artifacts offer a rare opportunity to connect with the city's religious and artistic heritage.

San Clemente Basilica: Layers of History

San Clemente Basilica is a unique archaeological treasure in Rome. What sets it apart is its multiple layers of history, each telling a different story. The modern basilica was built on top of an older basilica, which, in turn, was constructed over a Roman nobleman's house. When you descend into the depths of this church, you can explore the different strata of history, all beautifully preserved.

One of the most remarkable features of San Clemente is the frescoes that adorn the lower levels, showcasing the artistic skill of the medieval period. These frescoes provide insight into the religious beliefs and daily life of the time, making it a hidden gem for art and history enthusiasts.

The Catacombs of Rome: A Subterranean World

The catacombs of Rome are an intricate network of underground burial sites that date back to the early Christian era. These catacombs were used to bury Christians and pagans alike, and they hold a wealth of art, inscriptions, and historical significance. The catacombs are a true hidden world beneath the city, and a visit to these sites is like stepping back in time.

One of the most famous catacombs is the Catacomb of Callixtus, known for its labyrinthine passages, intricate frescoes, and the tombs of early Christian martyrs. The catacombs are not only a testament to the history of Christianity but also a reflection of the art and burial practices of ancient Rome.


When exploring Rome, don't limit your itinerary to the well-known tourist spots. There are hidden artifacts beyond the altar, waiting to be discovered in the city's churches, basilicas, and underground catacombs. These treasures offer a unique perspective on the history, art, and culture of Rome, providing a richer understanding of this incredible city's past.

So, whether you're a history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply a curious traveler, be sure to venture beyond the famous landmarks and uncover the hidden gems that lie beneath the surface of Rome's historic streets.

Skip the Line- Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel

Enjoy a world-class service with a fast track option to enter the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, located near the bustling Vatican City. Benefit from an express security check and explore the renowned art galleries, including the Raphael Rooms and works by Michelangelo.


Not suitable for:

Visitors are advised to adhere to the dress code, including long-sleeved shirts and pants. Note that shorts, short skirts, and sleeveless shirts are not permitted. Security checks may result in varying wait times, depending on the crowd level.

Starting from lei 343.04 per person, reserve your spot with the option for free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance. Explore other related activities, including the Skip-The-Line Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel Ticket, Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Reserved Entrance, and Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Skip-the-Ticket-Line Tour.

Customer reviews rate this experience 3.7/5, with feedback from various traveler types. Check the calendar for available dates and book your tour now!

Architectural Intricacies of the Basilica in Rome

The Basilica in Rome stands as a testament to the architectural marvels of ancient Rome, showcasing a fusion of artistic grandeur and engineering ingenuity. This sacred structure, steeped in history, has captivated the hearts and minds of visitors for centuries.

One of the most striking features of the Basilica is its awe-inspiring dome. The grandiosity of this architectural element is unparalleled, with its intricate details and towering presence. The dome is adorned with exquisite frescoes depicting religious scenes, adding a spiritual dimension to the already magnificent structure.

As you enter the Basilica, you are greeted by a symphony of architectural elements that seamlessly come together. The nave, with its soaring columns and arches, creates a sense of vastness and unity. The play of light through the clerestory windows adds a celestial touch, bathing the interior in a divine glow.

Walking through the Basilica, one cannot help but marvel at the mosaic masterpieces that adorn the walls and ceilings. These intricate mosaics depict biblical narratives and saints in a kaleidoscope of colors, creating a visual tapestry that tells the story of faith and devotion.

The Transept: A Crossroads of Art and Devotion

Stepping into the transept, one is greeted by a cross-shaped intersection that symbolizes the intersection of earthly and divine realms. The transept is adorned with sculptures and reliefs that showcase the skill of ancient artisans. Each sculpture tells a story, from the nativity to the crucifixion, inviting worshippers to contemplate the divine journey.

The altar, situated at the intersection of the transept, is a focal point of reverence. It is embellished with ornate carvings and surrounded by statues of saints, creating a sacred space for prayer and contemplation. The play of light on the altar adds a mystical ambiance, enhancing the spiritual experience for those who gather in this hallowed hall.

Chapels and Side Aisles: Hidden Gems of Devotion

Exploring the side aisles and chapels of the Basilica reveals hidden gems of artistic and religious significance. Each chapel is a microcosm of devotion, featuring altars adorned with candles, statues, and sacred art. The side aisles, with their row of chapels, create a sense of intimacy, inviting worshippers to engage in private moments of reflection.

Architectural elements such as buttresses and flying buttresses play a crucial role in supporting the structural integrity of the Basilica. These external features not only contribute to the building's stability but also add a sense of grace and elegance to its exterior. The flying buttresses, in particular, are a marvel of engineering, providing both support and aesthetic appeal.

Conclusion: A Living Testament to Faith and Architecture

In conclusion, the Basilica in Rome stands as a living testament to the intertwining realms of faith and architecture. Its architectural intricacies, from the grand dome to the detailed mosaics, create a space that transcends the physical and elevates the spirit. As visitors walk through its hallowed halls, they are not only witnesses to the grandeur of ancient Rome but participants in a timeless journey of devotion and contemplation.

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