St Peters Sistine Chapel

Old Apr 9th, 2011, 12:06 PM
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St Peters Sistine Chapel

We are in Rome for 3 days end of June this year and planning to devote early part of day 2 to St Peters/Sistine Chapel area. We hope to be done with sightseeing and head to lunch by 2.30ish pm. We are staying in the Piazza Navone area.

Q1 Can we walk to St Peters area ? What time do things open and how early can we start. We want to start as early as possible to beat the crowds and the heat.

Q2. Any early planning needed in terms of tickets etc ? Is there an entrance fee ? I know we need to dress conservatively (no bare legs and arms) What else to plan for ?
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 12:26 PM
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hi subina,

your first step is to decide on your priorities - St. Peter's and the sistine chapel, although they are both in the Vatican City, they are completely separate entities with different entrances, etc.

in fact, no ticket is needed to get into St. Peter's - it is a church and charges no entrance fee. you do need to queue to get through security, and the earlier you get there the better. while you are in there, [it's the size of several football pitches] you can get a ticket to go up to the Dome but you can decide that on the day.

so far as the sistine chapel is concerned, unless you are prepared to pay €200 each or so to go on a private tour, you can only enter through the Vatican museums - it takes an absolute minimum of 2 hours to get to the sistine chapel. there are various tour operators who will take you through, or you can buy tickets in advance through the Vatican website.

sometimes it is possible to exit through a small door in the back of the sistine chapel to get into St peter's without going all the way back round the Vatican walls and queuing to get back in through security again, but I wouldn't bet on it.

if you started very early, say by 9am, so as to avoid the queues to get into St. Peter's, you could see it in an hour and a half, then book a vatican tour for 11am, and be having lunch at 2.30. the basilica opens at about 7.30 i think, but if you get to security by 9am, you should be fine.

you can walk there from the piazza navona - it will take you about 20-30 minutes, depending on how quickly you walk., the crowds, etc.

there is also the possibility of doing a tour of the excavations under St. Peter's, called a "Scavi" tour. again see the Vatican website. it takes about 90 mins to get in, do the tour, and come out again. you can walk straight into the tour office without going through security [showing the swiss guards your tickets] and into St. Peter's without queuing up again.

have a great trip.
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Old Apr 9th, 2011, 11:58 PM
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It's a good 20-30 min walk from the main doors of St Peter's to the entrance of the Vatican Museums.

If you buy tickets for the museums on the web, your only waiting time is likely to be security queues, so "beating the crowds" at the Vatican Museums isn't anything like as important as guide books written by people who'd not heard of buying online (or are just too lazy to modify a great travel writing cliche as the real world changes) make out.

The walk between the two can be uncomfortable around midday in midsummer, so if you ARE still able to get into St Peter's directly from the Sistine Chapel, it's well worth seeing the Chapel first, then the Basilica.

I wouldn't worry too much about crowds in St Peter's. It's specifically built to handle them, and this generation's crowds of tourists and pilgrims are no more numerous (or noisier, or more disrespectful) than the crowds of pilgrims the current building has been attracting for centuries. To anyone interested in the culture of Rome (as opposed to just ticking off sites they've read somewhere they must see), crowds, and how they behave, are every bit as important as some 15th century portarait of a Madonna.
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Old Apr 10th, 2011, 12:48 AM
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That's an interesting point about the crowds, Flanner. I love to watch the groups of priests and nuns and speculate where they have come from. It must be a mindblowing experience to visit St Peters and perhaps see the Pope if you are a believer. It is moving for me and I'm an atheist.
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Old Apr 10th, 2011, 01:36 PM
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I wouldn't worry too much about crowds in St Peter's>>

it's not the crowds within that are the problem, flanner, but the queues to get in. when DS and i arrived [specifically to climb the dome] shortly after 9am, there was virtually no queue to get through security. By the time we came out at about 10.30, the line stretched right across the piazza in front of St. Peter's - I didn't stop to see how long it was going to take those people to get in, but it wasn't going to be quick.

and I wouldn't reckon on getting out of the door at the back of the sistine Chapel; it has been noted on other threads that they are getting much more difficult about people using it.
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Old Apr 10th, 2011, 06:16 PM
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Thank you all for your invaluable tips.

So, if I understand this correctly:

I start my day early by going to St Peters (no tickets) at around 8.30am. I spend 60-90 minutes there (no Dome) and then its a 30 minute walk to Vatican museums (I pre purchase the tickets 30 days prior). It will only be the waiting in a line past the security guards that I have to contend with and it should take me 2-3 hours to see everything including the Sistine.

Is this right ? Did I misunderstand anything ?

I love this website and all of you are so so helpful !
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Old Apr 10th, 2011, 06:47 PM
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If you are set on seeing the Sistine, above all else in the Vatican, you can walk right through the museum to the Chapel. You'd be missing a ton, but that's what I did on my first trip and I walked through the museum in 15-20 minutes. Also, I entered about 20 minutes before closing time and there was NO line. The closing time is when they stop selling tickets, but they don't kick you out at that time.

If you want to experience the Vatican Museums, I would allow 2-3 hours or more just for that.

I second the recommendation for the Scavi tour under St. Peter's. It's fascinating! I could spend 2 hours just in St. Peter's, too. It's unlike anything else and well worth a slow visit. Good luck!
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 07:52 AM
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Try and book your Scavi tickets now... that's quite a limited ticket. You may get more info on a Vatican visit by reading these 20 tips: http://tinyurl.com/vatican-tips

The last entry is 16:00 and the Museums close at 18:00, but they start "herding you" out about 17:30 - So make sure you get to the Sistine Chapel al ittle after 17:00, or your visit time will be limited! Not sure how long the Museums will take you as there are about 7 miles of corridors and everyone has different interests and focuses.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 02:22 PM
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hi subina - yes, you've got it.

60-90 mins to see St. Peter's, 30 mins to walk round to the entrance to the Vatican museums, 2-3 hours to get through to the Sistine chapel. [depends on whether you want to see it all, or just walk through]

look - how did you manage to walk through to the sistine Chapel in 20 mins? we followed all the signs to the chapel and it look us about 4 hours, though we were there just after Easter when it was very busy, and our DD wanted to see the egyptian collection which meant we saw part of it twice. I've never heard of anyone doing it in less than 2 hours!
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 05:02 PM
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The security line to enter St. Peter's is close to #1 on this map while the entrance to the Vatican Museums is #22. You have to walk down Via di Porta Angelica and around to get to the museums.
http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/vaticancity-map.htm
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 06:28 PM
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The Musei Vaticani and Sistine Chapel are open daily from 9 to 14, sundays 9 to 2. Reservation is not mandatory but highly recommended during the tourist season.
There are available guided tours in different languages that cost about €45/50 and are more enjoyable than solitary visit due mostly to the immense art displayed.
You can go into St. Peter Basilica trough a door in the back of Sistine Chapel that I recommend because it gives the opportunity to see things that you normally do not see otherwise.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 06:38 PM
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Hi Subina,

The Vatican museum and St Peter's Basilica can easily take 2-3 hours, but worth every minute. I second the advice to get there early. We were able to tour the lower level with no ticket. There is a door to the right of the main altar as I recall, and if you just go over at the right moment they will let you down below. We didn't get all the information we would have gotten in a guided tour, but we did get to see it.

Also, I would highly recommend AVOIDING the urge to climb to the top of the dome. Once you are committed, there is no turning back, as there is a constant line of people behind you intent on making the climb as quickly as possible. As you climb, the stairs become narrower and the ceiling curves lower on you with the only light the occasional slit in the wall. If you have any issues with claustrophobia, this will set you off! In addition, once you get to the top it is a nightmare, with a very small area, low railings and a constant feed of people with nowhere to go! Great view, but I'd never do it again!

The rest of the Vatican is absolutely incredible. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 07:15 PM
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You can book your Vatican museums tickets 60 days prior.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 07:20 PM
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THanks Cybertraveler. I was not keen on the Dome but now I am sure that I dont want to do it.

Thanks all for the Scavi underground tour tip. Any links on where to buy those tics?

Also, RineEurope, I saw on the link http://tinyurl.com/vatican-tips that the Vatican museums were closed on June 29th, 2010. GULP! That was the EXACT day this year that we planned on going there ! Close call. I am assuming its closed on that day this year too so we will go on June 28th.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 08:20 PM
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>>>gtravel1 on Apr 11, 11 at 9:28pm
The Musei Vaticani and Sistine Chapel are open daily from 9 to 14, sundays 9 to 2.>>There are available guided tours in different languages that cost about €45/50>>You can go into St. Peter Basilica trough a door in the back of Sistine Chapel that I recommend because it gives the opportunity to see things that you normally do not see otherwise.
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Old Apr 12th, 2011, 02:39 AM
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Surbina - I'm not sure I agree that the Dome is not worth the trip. i am a 54 year old not very fit person but i still felt it was worth the effort to get to the top.

but you don't have to go all the way! the lift only takes you to roof level, where there is a fantastic opportunity to view the mosaics of the dome [which you can only see very poorly from ground level] and outside you can roam the roofs, have a drink in the cafe, and even use the loos. I thought that it was a whole new and fascinating view on St. Peter's and well worth the cost of getting up there.

if you do it, I would not bother with the Castel san angelo - the views are very similar.
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