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Vatican City

Vatican City

One of the most fashionable destinations for people on a vacation to Italy is the Vatican City. Vatican City is the world’s only state occupied completely with religion. It is the residence of the pope, the place of St. Vatican City is a Papal state, so it is wise to show up esteem to the Roman Catholic Church while traveling to.

Vatican City points of interest

Vatican City is also home to cultural values such as St. Peter’s Basilica , the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museums, having some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures.

Most people do not acknowledge that this is a self-governing state of it own. This implies that it holds its own regulations and has its own administration system of rules self-sufficient of the Italian government. The Vatican City is a surrounded state inside the city of Rome. It is the smallest independent state in the whole world with only a little over 100 acres. It was organised in 1929 under an arrangement between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy Seat.

The Holy Seat denotes to the central governing organization of the Catholic Church directed by the Pope. The Pope is also known as the Bishop of Rome. The Vatican City houses the official abode of the Pope and it is visited by many people every year on an Italy vacation.

vatican city rome

You can get in the Vatican City through the well-known St. Peter’s square. This square is known by great Baroque architecture from the 1600s to take on symbols of the church maternally embracing its people in its arms. St. Peter’s Basilica is another site you can travel to in the Vatican City while on your Italy holiday because it is also set up in St. Peter’s square. It is the most known building in the Vatican City and this church’s dome can be seen for miles around Rome.

A Church of records

The Basilica of Saint Peter is the largest church in the world – located in the smallest world’s country: it’s as big as 2 American football fields! It counts 233 windows, 77 columns and 46 altars. It took 120 years and 22 different popes to build this enormous church: works started under Pope Julius II in 1506 and ended under Pope Urban VIII in 1626; only the best artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante, worked at its construction.

Inside the basilica there are no paintings. The framed artworks you see on the many altars are mosaics made of precious hard stones.

The marvelous dome

The cupola of St. Peter’s church was designed by Michelangelo when he was in his 70s. The dome’s internal diameter is 41 metres and rises to a total height of 136 mt – actually someone recently claimed it to be the tallest dome in the world.

You can climb on the top of the cupola by taking the elevator to the terrace and then climbing 330 steps. Be sure you’re not claustrophobic, because the stairs are really really narrow and steep. The view from the top is definitely worth: you can admire the entire Vatican State including the private gardens of the Pope and of course the eternal city, Rome.

The Vatican Museums

This museum is the fifth most visited museum in the world, and you can tell it from the endless queue at the entrance. Over 4.5 million people visit this museum every year and there is not a good time to visit it.

The Vatican Museums count 9 miles of pieces divided in 54 different galleries or collections: you would need several days (and nights) to see the entire Vatican’s collection. The visit can be quite overwhelming, unless you book a Vatican tour, as I did with the Roman guy.

It was my first time in the Vatican Museums and I was really happy to take a guided tour. I had the opportunity to see the Sistine Chapel before the museum’s opening, i.e. not overcrowded. The tour lasted 4 hours and Raffaella, our tour guide, showed us the unmissable artworks, providing precious and interesting information. Here my top 3 things you have to see on your tour:

  • the spiral staircase designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, now the museum’s exit – sometimes mistakenly called the Bramante’s staircase;
  • the view of Saint Peter’s dome from the terrace of the museum, located next to the exit;
  • the Pignone, a huge bronze pine cone in the Vatican courtyard dating back to Roman times when it was located near the Pantheon;

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Vatican City tours

St. Peter’s Basilica seats 60,000 and is stated to be the biggest construction in the Christian church. It is famous for being the burial site of St. Peter who is said to be the establishing beginner of the Catholic Church by being the first Bishop of Rome. The uncovering of his tomb was annunciated in 1950 after a decade of archeological search.

vatican city history

Vatican City is an awesome site, so you’ll want to be sure you don’t miss a thing. The Vatican has its own tourist office on the left side of the piazza which is a good place to begin your visit. Vatican City is the world’s tiniest independent country. It is the world’s smallest political entity with rich cultural traditions. Vatican City is the smallest city-state in the world, with only 880 people, but is one of the most visited.

Catholic tradition states that St. Peter is buried under the altar of this Basilica and hence all the Popes since then have also been buried in the Basilica the most recent being Pope John Paul II in April 2005. At the ingress of the Basilica are statues of Christ, St. John the Baptist and 11 of the 12 apostles. You can enter the Basilica for free during your Italian holiday if you are properly dressed with no bare shoulders or knees. If you would like to attend to mass you should go to the Basilica on a Sunday.

There are some other places to see here during your Italy holiday. The largest museum in the world is also found in the Vatican City. It has over 1400 rooms and galleries that represent two thousand years of art. The Sistine Chapel is also found here and is famous for being the private chapel that the cardinals go to when electing a new Pope.

vatican museum tour

Don’t Miss:

I’d literally like to say don’t miss anything since the grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica blew me away. The interior of the Basilica is so lavishly decorated, there was marble and gold everywhere! But if I had to pick some highlights from the free parts of the Basilica, I would pick:

Michelangelo’s Pieta. This is the second time on my trip to Italy where I was struck with awe at Michelangelo’s work (the first time being when I fell for David). Pieta depicts Jesus in his mother Mary’s arms after the crucifixion.

The sculpture of St. Peter. Facing the altar, on the right side of the church, you’ll find a statue of St. Peter. Most likely there will be a line of people waiting to touch its foot. Historically, pilgrims would come to this sculpture to rub or kiss its foot and pray. Today, the foot has become very worn down!

Bodies of former Popes. I didn’t know they did this, but it was interesting to see the bodies of former Popes resting in glass coffins at St. Peter’s Basilica.

St. Peter’s Baldachin and the Throne of St. Peter.
The bronze canopy and the throne behind it are hard to miss. The baldachin sits right above the tomb of St. Peter and is over 60 feet tall. Take a moment to take in the intricate designs on it. The whole thing took 11 years for Bernini to complete. The throne is also a sight to behold.

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vatican city images

So what is the best manner to see all the views that the Vatican City has to offer during your Italian vacation? There are conducted tours available that can be held half a day or longer. You can take a guided tour of just the museum or a led tour to include all the important places of interest in the Vatican City and this will ascertain that you don’t miss a thing here on your Italian holiday.


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