"Catholic 'Bling'" St. Peter's Basilica - Basilica San Pietro Tip by zadunajska8
St. Peter's Basilica - Basilica San Pietro, Rome: 136 reviews and 282 photos
The most striking thing I found about St Peters basilica was just how holy it did NOT feel!
This is probably due to the huge numbers marching through the place and the need for the church authorities to try to control the passage of the crowds as well as the security measures they have obviously felt are necessary. The biggest irritations to me were the large tour groups who attempt to push other visitors out of the way and the shameless touts who are trying to recruit you into these tour groups.
The queue to get in to St Peters looked horrific when we arrived and the touts offering tours which will jump the queue can seem very tempting to many I imagine, but the queue actually moves really quickly and so it's not such a big issue. We also got talking to people from China and Brazil whilst in the queue and actually enjoyed meeting these people we would otherwise never have crossed paths with.
Before you go in you must observe the dress code. No bare shoulders or knees. Apparently this is enforced with varying degrees of strictness on different days but go prepared that this is supposed to be a holy place. I do find it odd however that the church asks visitors to cover up when they are going to be shown a building full of nude images!
The interior of the basilica is big and extremely ornate. The size probably feels greatly diminished because it is so packed inside but it is still huge. The level of decor with so much gold, marble and precious stones just looked completely over the top to me (but I am an atheist from an extremely protestant background!) and it was almost as though the church was saying "look at how rich we are". Others will clearly disagree wholeheartedly, but I couldn't help but think of it as "Benedict's Bling". On the whole I think I much preferred the Basilica of San Giovanni in Lateran.
St Peters square outside I found was much more elegant. Again, it's been built with the intention of impressing the power of the church on you.
Directions: At the heart of the Vatican city.
Phone: +39 06 6988 3731
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