9. Rome: St. Peter's Basilica Early Morning Tour
Explore one of Rome's most visited sites away from the crowd and find out why it took almost 120 years to get it done. St.Peter's Basilica is the most prominent building in the Vatican City with a surface area enough to accommodate up to 60,000 visitors, its dome is a dominant feature of the skyline of Rome. The largest church in Christendom, and one of the holiest sites of Christianity and Catholic Tradition, it is traditionally the burial site of its titular, St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome,the first Pope. As you enter Basilica your guide will walk you towards famous Bernini's Baldachin underneet which the tomb of St. Peter is located. For this reason, many Popes have, from the early years of the Church, been buried near Pope St. Peter in the necropolis beneath the Basilica which occasionlly can be visited as well.
You will then continue towards another Masterpiece, famous Pieta di Michelangelo. An art historian tour guide will reveal you some of the most important facts about this unique sculture carved from a single slab of marble and commissioned by a french cardinal Jean de Billheres. Not to mention the door on the right side, famous Porta Santa, the holy door which is only opened once every twenty-five years.
Save the best for the last, exclusive visit, to famous Vatican Grottoes positioned just below the Renaissance basilica and above Constantine’s 4th century basilica, the grottos contain chapels dedicated to various saints and tombs of kings, queens and popes, dating from the 10th century. This unique guided tour will end on St. Peter's Square a grandiose elliptical esplanade created in the mid seventeenth century by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The square is bordered by massive colonnades that symbolize outstretched arms. Bernini and his assistants sculpted the 140 statues of saints that grace the balustrades on the colonnades. The square is decorated with fountains and an Egyptian obelisk that was transported to Rome in 37 AD.