Can you go to St. Peter’s Square at night?

St. Peter’s Square – or Piazza San Pietro – is one of the most recognisable squares across all of Europe. Located in the Vatican City – the smallest country in the world and the traditional home of the Pope – the square sits directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

During the days, on almost every day of the year, the Vatican is filled to the brim with visitors checking out the square and the Vatican Museums. The Vatican is so popular it welcomes over 5 million visitors every year.

For this reason, you may be wondering if you can visit St. Peter’s square at night, when the large crowds of people have gone home. The answer is yes!

The Vatican City does not shut down after a certain time, or lock visitors out, so you are free to walk around the square at any time. However, it is worth noting that all the Vatican museums and St. Peter’s Basilica will not be accessible after nightfall, and you may be disappointed by this.

Visit the museums in the afternoon, then explore at night

One way you could get the best of both worlds and see the famous museums including the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s painted roof and explore St Peter’s Square in the evening is to book an afternoon tour of the Vatican museums. The last entry time is 4pm, and you could roam through the 54 galleries until closing at 5.30, and finish with a visit the Sistine Chapel which closes at 6pm, or 7pm in summer.

Once you exit the chapel, you can roam around St Peter’s Square for as long as you wish. It is free to roam about St Peter’s Square, and the perspective at night-time would be magical. If you want to simply stroll through the historical country, without visiting the museums (or maybe you’ve already seen them and want a different experience) then go right ahead!

Vatican City is tiny, meaning when you are done exploring the museums, the basilica and the square, there isn’t too much else to explore. The entire city is only a 2-mile square radius, or 1/8 of Central Park in New York for context!

Avoid going to the Vatican on Sunday’s and Catholic holidays as all museums are closed – excluding the last Sunday of the month.

Vatican night tours:

Not many people are aware, but throughout the summer months, travellers have the rare opportunity to visit the Vatican Museums in the evening, when the crowds have gone home for the day and the tiny city lights up in a way not many people stick around to see.

Vatican Museums including the Sistine Chapel are open from 7-11pm on selected Fridays from April through to October to a much more limited number of visitors. This is quite an expensive option, but the option is there.

Why should I visit St. Peter’s Square?

The square and the basilica are both named after Saint Peter – one of the 12 Disciples of Jesus – who is universally regarded as the first Pope by Catholics. The square and the basilica carry important historical and religious significance. It is said Saint Peter was crucified at the spot where the basilica is built, with his burial place traditionally being noted as directly below the high alter.

The grand elliptical space is made up of 248 columns, and adorned with 140 saint statues on the top, and was built surrounding a 25m grand obelisk from Ancient Egypt. This obelisk is noteworthy as it is the only one in Rome that has not been destroyed throughout the years of wars, earthquakes and architectural changes.

Whenever you visit, be prepared.

Due to its hugely religious history and famous galleries and artwork, Vatican City demands a high level of respect from all visitors. Even if you are only planning on only visiting St Peter’s Square, it is best to wear clothing that covers your knees and shoulders. You don’t want to make it all the way there only to be denied entry if you do decide to head into any of the buildings.

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