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Wheelchair Accessibility at the Vatican

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought I’d spend this newsletter describing the accessibility at one of the most important places in Christianity: Vatican City.

Whether you are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, another religion, or none at all, everyone can agree on two things about the Vatican:

1) It’s important.  The Vatican was as powerful as France, England, Spain, and other countries during the Middle Ages.  St. Peter’s Basilica was also built on the site of St. Peter’s martyrdom (they’ve found the buried remains of the chariot racetrack ruins where he was killed) and his tomb (deep under the church).
2) It’s impressive.  The Italian Renaissance received significant funding from the Catholic Church.  Consequently, the Vatican houses some of the greatest works of art ever created: the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s Pieta sculpture, Rafael’s frescoSchool of Athens, and Bernini’s altar canopy, to name a few.  St. Peter’s is also the largest church in the world with the magnificent St. Peter’s Square found right in front of it.

Not every part of Vatican City is accessible to disabled visitors, but there is plenty to see.  The Sistine chapel can be reached by using 2 ramps, 2 elevators, and a wheelchair lift (photo shown below).  A full description of the accessible path to view the most famous ceiling in the world is found on my Sistine Chapel Disabled Access Review page.

Wheelchair lift leading to Sistine Chapel

Wheelchair access to St. Peter’s Basilica is also possible using a couple of ramps and an elevator.  You will need to get special permission to get past the barriers (shown in the photo below). Unfortunately, the shortcut to get between the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica involves a flight of stairs…disabled visitors will have to take the long way around.

Disabled visitors will need permission to get past the barriers at the St. Peter’s entrance

An explanation of what you’re seeing by a Vatican expert will really make your visit something you’ll always remember.  We’ve worked with local tour guides to design fully accessible tours of the Vatican. If you’d like a step-free tour route and a guide familiar with the needs of disabled travelers, our accessible Vatican tours will ensure that your visit is comfortable and memorable.

At Sage Traveling, we’re busy getting ready for next year’s travel season.  I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday and happy new year!

We’ve spent thousands of hours researching accessibility across Europe.  If you’d like us to help plan your trip, please email for Southern Europe for Northern Europe.

Travel Wisely,

John Sage, Founder and President of Sage Traveling

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