St Peter’s Basilica impresses with its grandeur, Baroque décor, and Renaissance art and architecture, but while the church shows mainly the artistic and religious side of the Vatican, the true history of the Holy See lies 10 metres below ground. Beneath the world-famous St. Peter’s Church one can find the secrets of the Vatican and over 2,000 years worth of history.
This lesser-known Vatican sight was first discovered in the 1940s when Pope Pius XI hoping to find the remains of St. Peter requested excavations to be carried out under the Basilica… they found much more than they expected. In your archaeological visit to Saint Peter’s tomb, you will go below ground, straight in the heart of the sacred necropolis, and will discover ancient tombs, paintings, sarcophagi, coffins, and mosaics. While in the Vatican grottoes, you will wander through the underground cemetery and excavations, you will walk around the mausoleums and the tombs of popes, and finally you will stand before the resting place of Saint Peter.
This veritable city of the dead holds graves that date back to the founding days of the Roman Empire. It is truly fascinating to walk around the necropolis and unearth the hidden secrets of the Vatican. In order to preserve this extraordinary historical and archaeological site and due to the limited premises around the venerated tomb of the Apostle Peter, tickets are limited to a small number a day, so book while it lasts!