We were told by many guidebooks and experienced Rome travelers that we must climb to the cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica for amazing views. It pays to listen.
We were running late (of course) and were forced to pay the €7 to take the elevator to the rooftop of the church. (The alternative was to climb all 550 steps for €5.)
From the rooftop were beautiful views of Michelangelo’s dome and the church below. Factoid: the dome is 448 feet from the floor of the cathedral to the top of the lantern. Beneath the dome, under the main altar and 23 feet underground lies St. Peter’s tomb.
From the church rooftop, we climbed 323 steps to the very top of the dome.
And we came out to see this. Talk about a view.
A view of St. Peter’s Square designed by Bernini. There are a total of 284 columns and 140 of Bernini’s favorite Saints, each 10-feet tall, in the square.
You can make out the Vittoriano in the distance (the big white monument in upper right corner). Behind it is the Colosseum. You can even make out the dome of the Pantheon on the left side of the photo.
A view of the Vatican Museum. The building with the triangular roof at the bottom of the photo is the Sistine Chapel.
My heart skipped when we stumbled on this view on our way down from the cupola.
The interior of the church is 1.) huge and 2.) breathtaking. Seen above is the main altar that features Bernini’s seven-story bronze canopy.
At left is the Altar of Transfiguration, a mosaic reproduction of Raphael’s painting.
Ok, when can I catch the next flight back to Rome? I officially miss it.