A Tourist in Rome - St. Peter's Dome Walk

Location:Entrance is at the right side of St. Peter's Basilica
Metro:Ottaviano/San Pietro, then walk 10 minutes south
Time:about 60 minutes
Cost:€5 to walk the entire way up, €7 to ride the elevator part way, then walk up the rest of the way.
Hours:8 AM - 6 PM

Take either the elevator (€7) or 231 stairs (€5) to the roof level of St. Peter's Basilica. I found it well worth it to pay the extra €2 for the elevator, because from the roof level to the top of the dome is another 323 stairs, and there's no alternative there except to walk up the steps. The entrance to the dome climb is just outside the basilica on the north side. Even if you don't want to walk up those 323 steps to the top of the dome, the view from the level at the top of the elevator ride is spectacular. The elevator lets you off at the base of the dome, on the inside. You walk around the inside of the dome to get to a doorway that leads out onto the roof, where it is a short walk back into the dome to the stairway to the top. But meanwhile from that ring on the dome you have a spectacular view of the church (1st photo below), looking down onto Bernini's baldacchino, the people down below, the mosaics on the dome (2nd photo below), and the huge letters around the inside of the dome. Unfortunately, 5-foot-tall fencing ruins pictures down into the church since my lens is wider than the openings in the fence.

    
Looking down into St. Peter's from the inner ring of the dome
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Looking up at the interior of St. Peter's dome from the inner ring of the dome
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From the roof of St. Peter's Basilica, you can get a decent view of St. Peter's Square and Rome in general. But for the real spectacular views, you need to walk up the 323 steps to the top of the dome. The spiral staircase winds between the inner and outer shells of the dome; the walls surrounding you are curved -- the outer one curves inward and the inner wall curves away from you. The spiral staircase has a small window every once in a while, and it's a hot sweaty and difficult 15-minute walk to the top. But the views from the top are spectacular, and the walk back down is much easier. Two photos of the stairway are below.

    
The stairway inside the dome of St. Peter's, to the top
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The stairway inside the dome of St. Peter's, to the top
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Photos looking out from the top of the dome are below:

    
St. Peters Square, Castel Sant'Angelo, the Passetto di Borgo, and the Tiber River from the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica
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The view east, showing things in the previous image, plus the Pantheon and the Victor Emmanuel Monument from the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica
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The Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel (at lower right) from the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica
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The Sistine Chapel from the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica
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The view south from the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, including the JaniculumHill
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The statues on the top of St. Peter's Basilica, from the back, from the rooftop of St. Peter's Basilica
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The dome of St. Peter's Basilica from the rooftop
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The lookout balcony from the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica
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See also:
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