Millions of travelers visit Rome every year. And most of them take one day or two to visit the Vatican. Probably you have done the same. But, have you ever took part of this Vatican Tour? If you haven’t, read this post and learn how to live this amazing experience you will never forget.
The Vatican Tour to The Necropolis of St. Peter’s Basilica
The Vatican Tour To The Necropolis Of St. Peter’s Basilica is a ninety-minute guided tour that is very little known and very worth taking. If you take it, you will be taken down.
And I mean it. I am not talking about the “grotto” area, where chapels and tombs of past Popes lie. This Vatican Tour goes down below the grotto to an area known as “necropolis”.
Plan of the necropolis, By digitalisiert von Mogadir via Wikimedia Commons
What exactly is a necropolis? Well, it is a large cemetery or burial ground with intricate tomb monuments.
And what’s in there that makes it so great? Not only it is the site of an acient cemetery and burial ground from the first century, but also the location of Saint Peter’s burial tomb.
Wait a minute. You are talking about Saint Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ? The frist recognized leader and Pope of the catholic church?
You are right! This is probably the most sacred site within Vatican City. But even if you are not a Christian and not interested in religion, this is a great tour anyway. If you enjoy history or architecture, you will totally love it, because there is nothing like it.
And I know what you are thinking right now. This is a special tour, organized by the Vatican… it must be expensive!
Well, it is not! It costs just 13 Euros, so it is both awesome and cheap!
Is this Really the Final Resting Place of Saint Peter?
The necropolis was excavated in the 1940s, when Pope Pius IX was to be buried. The Vatican commissioned excavations to be carried and some interesting things were discovered. For example, the temple of Emperor Constantine, but also the remains of a tall man.
After a lot of studies and debate, the Vatican determined that the remains must be those of Saint Peter, upon which the Saint Peter’s Basilica sits. The official declaration was made by Pope Paul VI in 1968.
So how the vatican reached this conclusion? Well, it is all explained during this Vatican Tour, so you will have to take it to find out!
How to Visit The Necropolis of St. Peter’s Basilica
If you want to take part of the Vatican Tour and visit the necropolis, you will need to plan ahead. The Vatican only allows about 200-300 people per day to visit the necropolis. But don’t panic: if you plan ahead, you will get your ticket.
The only way to visit the necropolis is with a Vatican tour guide, and each group is usually limited to 12 visitors, according to language. Make your request as soon as you have travel plans in place. This Vatican tour is becoming more and more popular, and you don’t want to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity.
You need to request a reservation by writing an email to the Excavations Office (Ufficio Scavi) of the Vatican or sending a fax to +39 06 69873017, with this information:
- Exact number of participants
- Names of participants
- Language requested
- Possible dates when the Excavations Office can assign your visit (of course, if you list more than one date you will increase your chances)
- Email address
Important Vatican Tour to The Necropolis Information
Before doing all this to get your ticket, be advised that the conditions in the necropolis are very different from the rest of St. Peter’s Basilica. The necropolis is very humid and warm, and there is no air conditioning down there. Most of the floor is dirt and stone, and some spaces can be confining, so maybe it’s not the best place to visit if you are claustrophobic.
General Vatican Tour to The Necropolis Information
- You won’t be able to take photos or videos during the visit.
- Print the booking confirmation and take it with you.
- All visitors must be at least 15 years old, no exceptions.
- The visit lasts about one hour and a half, and a specialized guide is in charge of it.
- For respect, the clothing must be suitable to the holy place: for men only long trousers are allowed, and for women pants or skirts below the knees. Shoulders should be covered for everyone.
- You won’t be able to bring any bulky object (suitcases, backpacks, large bags, cameras…), even if it has passed the police check.
- Reach the Excavations Office only by Bernini’s colonnade (on the left facing the Basilica), entrance on Via Paolo VI, where one passes to the police checkpoint and then heads to the Swiss Guards.
- You must arrive in the office at least 5 minutes before the scheduled visit time.
- Remember to bring a valid document for possible inspection by the Vatican authorities.
So, Are You Ready to Visit The Necropolis of St. Peter’s Basilica?
This Vatican tour was one of the big highlights of my visit to Rome. I really enjoyed it, and there is no way I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t want to talk much about the tour itself, because the story told is truly remarkable. You will know about all the clues and evidence that led the Vatican to determine that it is indeed the final resting place of Saint Peter.
And that’s not all: apart from St. Peter’s tomb, there are a lot of other tombs, frescoes, mausoleums, mosaics and burial vaults from the second century BC, which makes the tour fascinating.
Trust me, you will love this Vatican tour, even if you are not a Christian. So go write that email and book your ticket!