Vatican City is the smallest country in the world both in size and population and is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church as you probably know. The Pope is Head of State and it also where he resides. Vatican City is home to St. Peters’ Basilica, shown in the center above. The Vatican Museums with over 100 gallery rooms is the biggest and richest museum complex in the world. The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica was designed by Michelangelo who became the chief architect in 1546. The dome can be seen from miles around.
Around 25,000 people a day visit Vatican City, primarily St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museums. We had heard about huge crowds or long lines and had read different strategies how best to visit without a long wait. When walking from the subway stop to Vatican City there are plenty of people along the way doing their best to get your business or give you their advice. This can be slightly overwhelming, and/or annoying especially if you aren’t sure what or where you are going! We had purchased group tickets at our campsite tourist office for an extra fee. We weren’t really sure what this meant, but were told it was a way to avoid waiting in line. We were told to go to an office on the left when facing the Vatican in the plaza. We found the office and when we got there at about noon they told us they weren’t doing any more tours for the day as the Vatican was closing early to prepare for the Pope’s speech the following day.
This was crushing news as we were planning to leave Rome the next morning to carry on our travels, which I had shared with the staff to no avail. Trying to figure out what to do next, because we surely did not want to leave Rome without seeing the Sistine Chapel especially, we sat outside near the office to think things over. Thank goodness we did as just a few moments later a gal from the office came out and told us they were taking in one more tour! Happy days! What this meant was that we, along with a group of about 20 other people, followed the man with the sign shown below for about a 5 minute walk around the side of the museum to the group entrance. And that was it, we were then on our own to explore the Vatican Museums. Had we not bought the group tickets we probably would not have gotten in at all, so sometimes things work out OK!
A rare site to see the museum halls empty, but this section was roped off from the point where we entered the museum.
Through the hall of statuary.
A colourful view of Rome from one of the open windows. You can see the Victor Emmanuel Monument from the previous post on the far right.
Room after room of priceless statues, sculptures, mosaics, and art displayed in detailed and beautiful surroundings.
A quiet staircase that was roped off from the public.
Other than the Sistine Chapel I think the Map Room was my favourite room. So much detail and so colourful.
I was rather obsessed with the variety of borders.
A glimpse of the Vatican Gardens which can be toured by special ticket on certain days of the week. I would definitely look into it if I ever visited Rome again.
The Raphael Rooms. Four rooms that are famous for the frescoes painted by Raphael and his workshop in the public part of the Palace of the Vatican during the period of the High Renaissance in Rome.
So amazing. Just beyond words really. First of all just how they worked out the detailed patterns and scenes and borders.
The Sistine Chapel. Which as you can see from the sign no photos allowed inside. However there are benches along the side so you can take time to sit and look up and marvel at the ceiling frescoes painted by Michelangelo.
Fresco or (frescoes) is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly-laid, or wet lime plaster. Water is used as a vehicle for the pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes and integral part of the wall.
I would love to see how this is done, as it seems extremely challenging in the best of circumstances. It is not surprising why so many come to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican City to see these timeless masterpieces. Words or photos are not enough to capture what it is like to see the artwork in person.
Inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Beautiful again and so much detail and history.
You could spend a day in the cathedral and also climb the dome if you wish which the views would be fantastic looking over St. Peter’s Square. Some believe that St. Peter himself is buried beneath the dome.
The Swiss Guards outside in their bright uniforms.
One of the fountains in St. Peter’s Square late in the afternoon.
So glad we were able to visit Vatican City and it was beyond anything I had imagined.