St. Peter's Basilica

If you're in the Vatican Museums, and you're with a tour group, there's a special exit at the back of the Sistine Chapel which let's you get into St Peter's without having to queue... Make of that what you will if you're not in a group!

St. Peter's Basilica is seriously stunning, but it can be a bugger to take photos inside because of the light. Take a few snaps, but then put the camera away and soak up the largest cathedral in the world.

This place is huge, and every part of the interior is lavish. Designed by Michelangelo, Maderno, Bernini and Bramante, it's a superb Renaissance church that's steeped in religious history.

The bronze altar by Bernini dates from around 1634, and St Peter's tomb lies directly below it. As Mass was on whilst we were there, we couldn't get close. The sneaky people in the photo said they were going to Mass, and then didn't. Hmph!

Michelangelo's Pietà is one of the many statues that people crowd around; Michelangelo also worked on the dome, but died before it was complete. We didn't have time to - and had the recent memory of climbing the 414 steps to the top of Giotto's Campanile - but you can climb to the top of the dome to get a wonderful view of Rome (there is a charge for this).

St Peter's Basilica is a truly marvellous space, and one you should definitely visit if you are in Rome. Entry is free, though you need to make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. They won't send the colourfully-dressed Swiss Guard after you, but you will get a tap on the shoulder if you try and go in without covering up. x

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