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Wheelchair Access at Vatican St. Peter’s Basilica

Vatican wheelchair access at St. Peter’s Basilica is possible by a combination of wheelchair ramps and elevators.  There is a wheelchair ramp near the metal detectors, an elevator near the gift shop, and a wheelchair ramp in the portico leading up into the church.

The excavations (scavi) are underneath the main altar and are not handicapped accessible.  Wheelchair users can reach the base of the dome by asking a staff member where the elevator is located.  Be sure to also look for the tombs of Pope John Paul II and John XXIII (both on the right side of the church).

Admission to the church is free for all.  Audioguides are available at the cloakroom for a fee.  The pope usually does a blessing from his apartments at noon on Sunday.  The Papal Audience on Wednesday is possible by getting tickets through your local Catholic Church at home.

Many Vatican disabled visitors choose to visit by taking a Vatican accessible guided tour. The tour includes a visit to the Vatican Museum, Papal Apartments, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.  The only accessible guided tour of the Vatican that visits the all of these parts of Vatican City is not provided by the staff and must be arranged by an outside tour guide.  The tour allows visitors to by-pass the long lines and provides detailed commentary on all the art and history of Vatican City.

The ramp into St. Peter’s Basilica is a little steep and shown on the left. The interior of St. Peter’s Basilica is step-free and very large. There is generally plenty of room to navigate through the tourists except near the Pieta and John Paul II’s tomb where it can get crowded.

We gave the St. Peter’s Basilica a 4 Star Sage Accessibility Rating because it has ramp and elevator access.  Although it has cobblestones to approach it, they are not severe.  It did not get a 5 star rating because of the presence of cobblestones, the 20 meter slope leading up to the coat check, and the steep ramp in the portico.

View photos of Vatican Disabled Access for Visitors

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