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Vatican Grottoes

Explore the colossal Vatican Grottoes, hidden away under St. Peter’s Basilica. 

It hosts a collection of papal tombs and is the eternal resting place for 90 popes and notable figures. 

It receives millions of visitors who come to pay homage and explore the Grottoes every year. 

Dive into our in-depth article offering highlights, opening hours, and more for an enhanced visit to this iconic location.

What to Expect at Vatican Grottoes?

At the Vatican Grottoes, get ready to explore an intriguing blend of spirituality and history. 

These sacred rooms contain the final resting places of more than 90 popes, some monarchs, and important church figures, representing centuries of spiritual legacy. 

Look at notable structures and artifacts, including the marble statue of St. Peter enthroned on the tomb.

What to See at Vatican Grottoes?

Exploring the Vatican Grottoes is like taking a special trip to important places linked to the pope’s history in Vatican City.  

Here are some of the unique treasures awaiting your discovery:

Clementine Chapel (Chapel of St. Peter)

Clementine Chapel (Chapel of St. Peter)
Image: Catholicprovo.wordpress.com

The Clementine Chapel, a valued jewel in the Vatican Grottoes, protects the tomb of Peter the Apostle. 

This chapel remains at the heart of the peribolos, maintaining its original purpose. 

Faith-based visitors still come here to honor its significance. 

According to myth, St. Peter’s head sits above the tomb in the chapel’s rear. 

This chapel, named after Pope Clement VIII, who renovated it in 1592, represents centuries of respect and history.

Chapel of the Madonna of Bocciata

The Chapel of Madonna of Bocciata, the oldest near St. Peter’s tomb, was commissioned by Gregory XIII in 1580. 

This location is home to a stunning fresco by 14th-century artist Pietro Cavallini, often referred to as the “Madonna della Bocciata” because of Mary’s swollen face. 

According to folklore, the image started to bleed after a soldier threw a bowl at it while drunk after losing a game.

Icon of the Madonna Dolorosa & Reliefs of the Doctors of the Church

Madonna Dolorosa & Reliefs of the Doctors of the Church
Image: Commons.Wikimedia.org

At the southern end of the Vatican Grottoes, you will find a grand portrayal of the Holy Madonna dressed in red and black robes.

It is adorned with an orange halo with arms slightly raised.

The painting is enhanced by ancient reliefs of the Doctors of the Church, preserved for centuries.

Tomb of John Paul II

Following Pope John Paul II’s funeral in April 2005, his initial tomb rested at the north end of the Grottoes, close to St. Peter’s tomb, previously occupied by Pope John XXII till 2001. 

In 2011, after being declared blessed, John Paul II was relocated beneath the Altar of St. Sebastian. 

His body was in a cypress coffin, one of three nested coffins.

Archaeological Rooms of Vatican Grottoes

Archaeological Rooms of Vatican Grottoes
Image: Commons.Wikimedia.org

In the Vatican Grottoes, portions of the Old St. Peter’s Basilica remains hidden below the new cathedral. 

During the 16th century, Paul V expanded the Grottoes, blending fragments from the old basilica into its walls. 

These six Archaeological Rooms house tombs, frescoes, and leftovers from the ancient cathedral.

Marble Statue of St. Peter Enthroned

The iconic marble statue of St. Peter is a famous symbol worldwide. 

The statue shows the apostle seated, arms crossed, and feet adorned with sandals. It is near the grottoes’ exit.

Almost every visitor to the Vatican Grottoes makes the gesture of kissing the Apostle’s feet.

Funerary Monument of Calixtus III

Monument of Calixtus III
Image: Findagrave.com

The funerary monument of Pope Calixtus III is located near the exit at the southern terminus of the Vatican Grottoes. 

Calixtus was the spiritual leader of the Church and the Papal States throughout the 14th century till his death.

Although his final resting place was at Santa Maria in Monserrato, St. Peter’s Basilica honors his memory with a special memorial.

Clementinian Peribolos

Situated between the Chapel with the Tomb of Pius XII and the Chapel of St. Veronica resides the Clementinian Peribolos. 

The ceiling in this area has been decorated with bright and fascinating holy pictures that extend throughout the passageway, contributing to its charm.

Vatican Grottoes Tickets

Vatican Grottoes Tickets
Image: Getyourguide.com

The Vatican Grottoes, housing the tombs of numerous popes and dignitaries, are accessible to the public as part of the St. Peter’s Basilica guided tour

Visitors can buy St. Peter’s Basilica tickets to explore this historical location below the big church. 

The St. Peter’s Basilica Guided Tour Ticket starts at € 49 (US $53) for adults.

TicketsPriceBooking Link
St. Peter Basilica Guided Tour Ticket€ 49 Buy Now

Where to Buy Vatican Grottoes Tickets?

Tickets for St. Peter’s Basilica can be purchased online or in person at the Basilica’s ticket counter. 

These tickets include access to the Vatican Grottoes, allowing you to explore this historic site below the Basilica.

However, the best option is to purchase tickets online, as you can skip waiting outside the ticket counter and save time. 

Also, online tickets are frequently cheaper, saving you money and reducing the possibility of last-minute disappointments. 

So, consider buying St. Peter’s Basilica tickets online for a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

Vatican Grottoes History

Vatican Grottoes History
Image: Basilicasanpietro.va

The Vatican Grottoes, located below Saint Peter’s Basilica, was constructed in the late 16th century to support the basilica’s structure. 

Over time, various popes expanded and adorned these underground spaces, adding chapels and holy areas. 

The grottoes house over 100 papal tombs and serve as a key spiritual place, preserving components of the old basilica and honoring the heritage of the Catholic Church’s leaders throughout history.

Vatican Grottoes Map

The map of the Vatican Grottoes features over 60 unique locations, including chapels, tombs, and hallways. 

Each number on the map is something special to explore, giving you a look into the history and sacredness of this place.

Vatican Grottoes Opening Hours

The opening hours of the Vatican Grottoes are the same as those of St. Peter’s Basilica.

  • April to September: 7 am to 7 pm
  • October to March: 7 am to 6 pm

Refer to the table below for a better understanding

April to September –

DayOpening HoursClosing Hours
Monday7 am7 pm
Tuesday7 am7 pm
Wednesday7 am7 pm
Thursday7 am7 pm
Friday7 am7 pm
Saturday7 am7 pm
Sunday7 am7 pm

October to March –

DayOpening HoursClosing Hours
Monday7 am6 pm
Tuesday7 am6 pm
Wednesday7 am6 pm
Thursday7 am6 pm
Friday7 am6 pm
Saturday7 am6 pm
Sunday7 am6 pm

Best Time to Visit Vatican Grottoes

Best Time to Visit Vatican Grottoes
Image: Youtube.com/@AndysAwesomeAdventures

The best time to visit Vatican Grottoes is early morning, between 7 am to 9 am.

The ideal months to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Grottoes are November and January to March when it is less crowded. 

Besides the busy Christmas and New Year’s holidays, December can be lovely.  

How long does it take to visit Vatican Grottoes?

The duration of a visit to the Vatican Grottoes can vary. 

Exploring the Grottoes alone could take around 30 minutes to an hour. 

However, the total tour to St. Peter’s Basilica, including the Grottoes and other sites, could take 2 to 3 hours.

How to reach Vatican Grottoes?

how to reach Vatican Grottoes
Image: Facts.net

The Vatican Grottoes are located at Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City.

It is situated within St. Peter’s Basilica, accessible from its main entrance. 

After exploring the Grottoes, you will exit outside the Basilica, requiring you to queue up again for re-entry. 

Begin with the Basilica and then proceed to the Grottoes.

Here are various options on how to reach Vatican Grottoes (St. Peter’s Basilica).

By Bus

Duration – 30 to 35 minutes

  • Board any one of the Buses 32, 81, or 982
  • Get off at Piazza del Risorgimento
  • The Basilica is only 10 minutes walk away

By Train

Duration – 20 to 30 minutes

  • Take a train to St. Pietro station in Vatican City
  • Get off and walk towards St. Peter’s Square
  • The Square is just 10 minutes walk from the station

By Tram

Duration – 40 to 50 minutes

  • Hop on Tram 19 toward Piazza del Risorgimento from Piazza dei Gerani. 
  • Get off at Piazza del Risorgimento. 
  • The Basilica entrance is a short 10-minute walk from this stop.

By Metro

Duration – 10 to 15 minutes

  • Board Line A (red line) heading towards Battistini
  • Get down at Ottaviano-S.Pietro or Cipro-Musei Vaticani stations
  • From there, walk south till you reach St. Peter’s Square

FAQs

1. What are Vatican Grottoes?

The Vatican Grottoes are underground chambers located below St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. 

These chambers house the final resting places of many popes, including St. Peter.

2. What can I expect at the Vatican Grottoes?

At the Vatican Grottoes, you can expect an in-depth experience with history and spirituality. 

Visitors can explore chapels, tombs, and monuments, witnessing centuries of the Catholic Church’s spiritual legacy.

3. What are the Vatican Grottoes opening hours?

The opening hours of the Vatican Grottoes are the same as those of St. Peter’s Basilica.

It is open from 7 am to 7 pm (April to September) and 7 am to 6 pm (October to March).

4. What is the best time to visit Vatican Grottoes?

The best time to visit Vatican Grottoes is early morning, between 7 am to 9 am.

5. How long does it take to visit Vatican Grottoes?

A visit could last 30 minutes to an hour, whereas a full tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, including the Grottoes, can take 2 to 3 hours.

6. Where can I buy Vatican Grottoes tickets?

The guided tour ticket for St. Peter’s Basilica includes access to the Vatican Grottoes.

The ticket price for an adult starts at € 49 (US$ 53).

Book your tickets here.

7. What are some of the top things to see at Vatican Grottoes?

At the Vatican Grottoes, you can explore various fascinating sights:

– Clementine Chapel
– Chapel of the Madonna of Bocciata
– Tomb of John Paul II
– Archaeological Rooms
– Marble Statue of St. Peter Enthroned

8. How to reach Vatican Grottoes by Bus?

Here’s how you can reach Vatican Grottoes by Bus:

– Board any one of the Buses 32, 81, or 982
– Get off at Piazza del Risorgimento
– The Basilica is only 10-minutes walk away

9. What are some Vatican Grottoes visiting tips?

Here are some tips on visiting Vatican Grottoes:

– Read a bit about the grottoes before your visit. 
Reading the history will make your visit more meaningful.
– Follow the rules – no photography and maintain silence. 
It’s a place of respect and reflection.
– Finish exploring St. Peter’s Basilica first, then head to the Grottoes. 
This way, you won’t have to wait in line again.

10. How to reach Vatican Grottoes by Tram?

Here’s how you can reach Vatican Grottoes by Tram:

Hop on Tram 19 toward Piazza del Risorgimento from Piazza dei Gerani. 

Get off at Piazza del Risorgimento. 

The Basilica entrance is a short 10-minute walk from this stop.

Featured Image: Tripadvisor.com

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