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St. Peter's Basilica, Rome – A glorious structure like no other

St. Peter's Basilica, Rome – A glorious structure like no other

For me, there was nothing quite like the experience of first stepping foot inside the colonnades of St. Peter's Square, and beholding the immense and awesome Basilica in all its glory. The sheer size and beauty of this magnificent structure simply blew me away and I was in awe. Every little detail of the exterior speaks of power, faith, dedication and a masterful craftsmanship – from the intricately carved statues crowning the facade, to the huge columns and ornate central doorway.

The immense front facade of St. Peter's Basilica

I have visited St. Peter's Basilica twice now - once during a Mediterranean cruise, and once during a city break to Rome. During the first visit we only got to look at the exterior and stand within the square - that was more than enough at the time! Just to see the Basilica and the colonnades was a fantastic experience in itself.

The gorgeous interior of St. Peter's Basilica

During the second visit we actually got to go inside the church and this was something that I had been waiting for from the first time I saw St. Peter's in the flesh. It was just as enthralling as I had imagined and the interior totally blew me away - the sheer opulence of the decoration is staggering. The detail of the frescos on the ceiling, the amount of gold, and the intricate statues are simply unbelievable.

Reflection of St. Peter's in the puddles

Furthermore, I had actually forgot that the legendary Pieta sculpture by Renaissance genius Michelangelo was actually inside the Basilica too - to see this amazing piece of artwork was something else - it really is a beautiful depiction. The ceiling of the main dome is also jaw-dropping - the way that the light falls through the windows, and lights up the different frescos on each panel is fantastic.

Colonnades of St. Peter's Square Seating in front of the Basilica Colonnades of St. Peter's Square Vatican Guards stood outside the Basilica Pietà (Michelangelo) Statues and interior of St. Peter's Basilica Gorgeous ceiling and dome of St. Peter's Basilica Gorgeous ceiling and dome of St. Peter's Basilica Decorative ceiling Stunning frescos on the smaller domes St. Peter's Basilica at sunset The immense front facade of St. Peter's Basilica

If you visit Rome then I strongly advise that you take ample time to visit the Basilica, both inside and out. The queues can be long, but it is possible to purchase a fast-track ticket which speeds up the process - the basilica is actually free to enter, but the fast-track ticket doesn't cost much at all and it could cut your waiting time by hours. Just remember to print off your actual ticket - I THOUGHT I had printed off my ticket, but I had only printed off the email confirmation and this wasn't enough - we then had to go to the ticket office to get the actual copies printed which wasted time - don't make the same mistake I did!

Vatican Guards stood outside the Basilica

I would allow for at least half a day to see the Basilica properly - remember that you can actually climb to the top of the Basilica dome for epic views of St. Peter's Square and this can take time. Again don't make the mistake that we did - be sure to check the dome opening times beforehand - we thought we had checked the times properly, but when we arrived, the dome wasn't open due to a special service taking place! Finally, also research service times beforehand - the second time we visited the Basilica during our city break there was actually a Mass being held by the Pope! We literally walked right past the entrance and didn't realize and entry was free for the public!

St. Peter's Basilica in all it's glory

Regardless of my blunders we still got to see St. Peter's in all its majesty and I am truly pleased with the photos I took and the experience I had. For me, this remains the ultimate in historical religious buildings and I don't think there is one that I have revered greater.

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