The dome of Saint Peter's Basilica is the dominant feature of the Roman skyline.
Designed by Michelangelo, the dome was actually carried out by his successors as architects of Saint Peters; Domenico Fontana and Giacomo Della Porta. They completed the building in three years, by 1590.
st peter's basilica dome
The interior decorations of the dome were designed by Cavalier D'Arpino, Giuseppe Cesari, between 1603 and 1612. Their sketches were made in to mosaics by Cesare Torelli, Donato Parigi, Ranuccio Semprevivo and Rosario Parasole.
dome in rome
These mosaics show Jesus, Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist and the 12 apostles the Church is happy with shooting up via angels to God, who is depicted in the Cupola or smaller dome at the very top.
dome of st peters
At the base of the cupola is inscribed: S. PETRI GLORIAE SIXTUS PP. V.A. MDXC PONTIF. V., or for the glory of Saint Peter, Pope Sixtus the fifth 1590, the fifth year of his pontificate. He commissioned the dome and it was finished the year he passed away.
Inside the drum of the Dome, beneath the windows, is a quote from Matthew Chapter 16 verses 17-19, in six foot high letters:
"You are Peter, the rock, upon this rock I build my Church, I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven".
This drum section was the part of the dome completed by Michelangelo in his lifetime although he never saw it decorated.
The Catholic Church regards this statement from Jesus as making Peter the first Pope, papa or father of the church. The Popes regard themselves as the successors to his office as Bishop of Rome; the earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church; they have always regarded Jesus as the head of the Church.
st peters basilica dome
Beneath this are four large circular medallions, each 26 feet high and again mosaics, depicting the writers of the four canonical gospels:
St. Matthew with the Angel
St. John with the eagle
St. Luke with the calf
and St. Mark with the lion.
These four men, or the gospels later ascribed to these men by Iraneus, give us the majority of information about the life of Jesus. Other gospels exist, but these are considered authentic by the vast majority Christian Churches. They were also the first four written.
who designed the dome of st peters
Structurally, the dome is 150 metres or 490 feet high from the floor to the cross on top of the dome.
The Statue of Liberty could fit inside St. Peter's underneath the dome and there would still be almost 220 feet to spare.
Visiting the dome affords the visitor great views of the inside of the church and of the outside of Rome. A small charge, less than €10, is incurred. You can visit the dome of st. peters by lining up in st peters square and once you reach the portico of the church, taking a right to the dome ticket office. Alternatively if you do the museums and chapel, once you exit the chapel you will see the line for the dome beneath you.
Updated by Dara McCarthy on . Scroll to Top
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The tour was everything and more than we expected. Thanks for making it an easy and fun experience for the whole family.
5.0 Stars Sarah Morel
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I love Dara's format of explaining with tons of sense of humour.
5.0 Stars Celina Tablante
Just loved all the info that Dara gave us. Excellent tour and tour guide. Would recommend your tours to our friends visiting Rome. Thanks for your services.
5.0 Stars Brando DeOliveira
Informative and Entertaining
The tour was great and we loved our tour guide. The tour was informative and entertaining. Our Vatican experience was greatly enhanced by having this tour and it was definitely worth it.
5.0 Stars Ryan
Thank you for providing a wonderful tour of the Vatican - with special thanks to Dara who was an outstanding guide!
5.0 Stars Simon Harris
Brilliant Irish Wit
Dara was so knowledgeable about all aspects of the history, architecture and general elements of the Vatican. What we really appreciated were the background stories he shared about why things were done the way that they were as it really aided our understanding and appreciation. Our group included 2 teenagers, and all of us were pleased. There was so much to cover and he did it brilliantly. His brilliant Irish wit was greatly appreciated too! I can't imagine trying to do the Vatican on our own.
5.0 Stars Carrie
Knowledgeable and Friendly
We had a wonderful time on our tour. Dara was knowledgeable and friendly. The Vatican trip was a highlight of our trip to Rome. Thank you.
5.0 Stars Medina Khalil
Dara was very informative
5.0 Stars Jeff Kennedy
The Tour was Excellent!
The tour was excellent! Very informative. Dara was an excellent tour guide - funny, knowledgeable and very friendly. This was the best tour we went on during our stay in Italy.
5.0 Stars Edvard Lauman
Dara did a wonderful job. I wish we would have had him as our tour guide the entire time we were in Rome. He made the tour wonderfully entertaining and very educational. He placed just enough detail in the explanation to teach us but not bore us. He did an outstanding job. Thank you Dara!
5.0 Stars Rebeka Carter
|Did you know?|
|The Vatican is not air-conditioned|
|There are very few seats|
|and few cafes|
|Tickets or Tour Booked|
|Knees & Shoulders Covered|
|Flash turned off Camera|
|Bottle of Water|
|Rested & Relaxed|