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:
Dara was very informative
5.0 Stars Jeff Kennedy
Dara made the whole foot pounding experience very interesting with a touch of humour thrown in for good measure. Without him pointing out things on the way we would have missed a lot. My teenage daughter was not looking forward to the tour, but afterwards she commented on how much she got out of it and found it very funny.
5.0 Stars Mr Parlour
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
Dara was excellent! Thank you for such a great tour!
5.0 Stars Ruth
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
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
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
A Great Tour
The tour was great, after talking with others on our cruise we got the better deal as they went on the cruise sponsor tour. I do have 2 items to help with improvements. I know you may not be able to do this one and it may be out of your control, but benches would be great when listening to the information on the Sistine Chapel. The second, the guides need better microphone, when they turn their head the mic stays put and you lose volume. My party all agreed that it was a great tour. Debbie.
5.0 Stars Deborah Flanders
It was a great tour except it was too long without being able to sit down or take breaks. (This is a criticism of the Vatican many people have - there should be more benches - Dara).
5.0 Stars Sheila Picard
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
|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|