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
My Tour reviews:
Our tour guide was very informative and knew the history of all the statues and art paintings and frescoes on the walls and ceilings. We are very glad we took this guided tour. We would not have known what we were looking at. Excellent work to Vatican tour and guide. Thanks!
5.0 Stars Katherine R. Yazzie
Tons of Sense of Humour
I love Dara's format of explaining with tons of sense of humour.
5.0 Stars Celina Tablante
I was incredibly impressed with Dara's knowledge and the tour given. I have even purchased a book about the art of the Sistine Chapel in order to develop my knowledge!! Very impressed and would highly recommend.
5.0 Stars Lisa Mcmonagle
I attended the tour with my friend and we both found the tour extremely interesting. I would definitely recommend this tour.
5.0 Stars Tracey Bennett
The tour was good and Dara did a fine job explaining everything.
5.0 Stars Tom Johnson
Highlights of My Trip
Most professional tour that I had on Rome. One of the highlights of my trip. Thank you!
5.0 Stars Marti Panikkar
Easy to Understand
Dara was a good guide and seemed to know what he was talking about, plus he was easy to understand.
5.0 Stars Jason P
Dara was an Excellent Guide
Dara was an excellent guide. His tour was very informative without being too 'heavy' and included just the right amount of humour. I'm sure we learnt a great deal more from Dara than if we simply read the guide books. The whole tour experience was incredable and helped to make our brief holiday to Rome a great success. Well Done!!
5.0 Stars Alison and Alan Twyford
The Most Enjoyable Tour
This was the most enjoyable tour of our entire two week vacation to Italy. The guide was quite knowledgeable and interjected fun facts and humor which made it even more engaging for our children - ages 20, 17 & 15. He was always respectful of the faith and reminded us of the rules - which from the noise level in the cathedral, other tour guides must not have been as informative.
5.0 Stars Mike Howard
Dara was Fantastic!
Dara was fantastic! Not only very informative but funny as well. He kept the group together well, he frequently asked if everyone was okay and we stopped for toilet breaks. The tour was so interesting and well paced. It was also great that Dara was able to talk and walk at the same time unlike the guide the following day at the colosseum who hurried us past everything then ushered us into the shade to talk for 20-30 minutes at a time(I'll rate that one next)!
5.0 Stars Natasha Thomas
|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|