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:
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
By Far the Best I have Ever Experienced
Having travelled a great deal, I have been on many tours in many places, but this tour was by far the best I have ever experienced! Dara delivered a lot of information in a quick and witty way. I am so glad we didn't try to visit the Vatican without a tour. Thanks so much for a wonderful day!
5.0 Stars April Flowers
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
An easy and Fun Experience
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
Great Tour Guide
What a funny guy! Truly enjoyed the commentary whether it was related or not! He is a great tour guide, super personality!
5.0 Stars Melissa Laycock
Informative and Interesting
Our tour was most informative and interesting. The guide kept the family entertained with facts of the origins to the many statues and artwork. Well worth the cost to cover such a magnificent papal residence.
5.0 Stars Gilbert & Luisa Rigon
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
Very Informative and Interesting
Dara was very informative and interesting. He made the tour very successful. We recommended that some collegues we were later meeting book their tour with you company.
5.0 Stars Steven Hardin
Throughly Enjoyed the Tour
Dara was excellent I throughly enjoyed the tour as did my family. I would do it again when I return.
5.0 Stars Olga Corapi
Very funny and Entertaining
Dara was fantastic!! Really informative, considerate of everyone on the tour. Aware that it was a long tour with a lot of walking and was always aware of the groups comfort and needs. He was also very funny and entertaining, I would highly recommend him!
5.0 Stars Tracey Herbert
|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|