St. Peter’s Basilica may grab you with its grandeur, but much of its history lies in its hidden details. Head beneath the famous church and discover the Vatican necropolis, a Roman cemetery that’s said to house the relics of St. Peter the Apostle. Walk amid tombs that trace pagan Rome to the start of Christianity, then return to the basilica for a tour. Michelangelo’s ‘La Pietà’ and Bernini’s bronze baldachin are among the highlights.
Go beneath the church to see the ancient burial site
See tombs and gravestones from the days of pagan Rome
Stand before the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle
Tour St. Peter’s Basilica, and learn about Michelangelo and Bernini
Head to St. Peter’s Square, then stroll with your guide and group into St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest sites in Christianity.
Once inside, you’ll head down the stairs past the Vatican grottoes and into the central nave where the necropolis is found. The large Roman cemetery sits next to Nero’s Circus, and graves date from pagan times through to the birth of Christianity. Walk amid the ancient burial plots, and stand before the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle — the first pope.
Back in the basilica, you’ll admire its elegant interior, richly embellished with gilded stucco, mosaics, marble, and sculptures. Learn about Michelangelo and his renowned La Pietà sculpture, stand before Bernini’s bronze baldachin, and check out the Chapel of Confession. Before you bid your guide goodbye, you’ll see the tomb of St. John Paul II. Your tour ends inside the basilica.
Reviews by Viator travelers
Great Tour of the Basilica and the Neocropolis
, Jul 2019
The guide was very passionate about this tour. Her energy and knowledge made this the best tour by far we had in Rome.
We were not expecting the tour of St Peters basilica which was outstanding and exceeded our expectations. The follow on to sciva tour was our main objective and it was over the top—under ground. Small group of 12 because of small spaces. In areas only limited to small numbers of groups each day. Guide was very informative and answered all our questions. Very nice insight into underground history of Rome. Not for those concerned with small/cramped spaces.
My husband and I were thrilled that we were able to book this tour as it has a very limited admission per day of only 250 visitors versus the 35,000 that visit the Basilica. The Vatican Necropolis tour is also known as the Scavi Tour that can be booked through the Vatican itself, but their tour does not include the rest of St. Peter's Basilica. For the additional monies 75 versus 15 you can incorporate 2 tours versus just one, and it was much easier to book through Viator versus the Vatican. On Viator, I was able to go in to their calendar to see availability and secure our tickets instantly! Going through the Vatican it is a request for tickets, then you wait for a response which may be no availability. Our tour guide was amazing, she was a employee of the Vatican and had been doing this tour for 12 years. I am a devout Catholic and when we were standing before the remains of St. Peter, she saw I was praying. She asked if anyone wanted additional time and I said yes. To be able to pray in front of the tomb of St. Peter was like nothing you will do in Rome, Vatican City or anywhere in the world if you are Catholic. Additionally, you end your tour in the Grotto area where you can also pray or view the tombs of the previous Popes. This area is also so very sacred and beautiful.
To avoid confusion when booking, it is important to know there are 3 levels, St. Peter's Basilica is level 1, the Grottos where the previous popes are buried is level 2 and the Necropolis is level 3. The Necropolis is also called the Scavi Tour and is where the old Pagan/Christian cemetery was excavated and where the tomb and remains of St. Peter are located. No pictures are allowed in the Necropolis but you can search them online for yourself if needed. Be aware that the Grottos and Necropolis are different areas of the Basilica when booking.
This tour was the highlight of all of our tours in the 2 times we have visited Rome. Kudos Viator! You did a great job!
I loved this under the Vatican tour. I got a very real impression of what a Roman cemetery was like and it brought together some stories I had read to make them more meaningful. It showed how the site evolved as well - very interesting. Our guide was great too. It felt a little rushed as I would like to soak up the atmosphere. This is a once in a lifetime tour for me and probably many others so a little more time to feel and soak up the atmosphere would be good. No photos of the necropolis are permitted. Time above ground in the basilica was good as well.
This was probably my favorite tour in Italy! Only 250 people get to see the necropolis a week out of the thousands the visit. The tour guide was great, very knowledgeable. We were just amazed by the necropolis and visiting the popes private chapel.