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Published On: Wed, Dec 12th, 2018

A trip to the Vatican in Rome

Heart of the Catholic religion and now the domain of Pope Francis, the Vatican is a rich and fascinating destination on a vacation in Rome. Gaze at the wonders of the Sistine Chapel while visiting the Vatican Museums, displaying some of the best Renaissance art in the world, collected by previous popes over several centuries.

While visiting the historic and beautiful city of Rome, experiencing the Vatican will make vacation memories of a lifetime. The following is a breakdown of the best sights to see and things to do on a visit to Vatican City.

  1. Breakfast at the Vatican

Early risers will appreciate the offer of a rich American buffet breakfast in the pleasant surroundings of the Cortile della Pigna (Fountain of the Pine Cone), a former Roman fountain. If the weather doesn’t permit outdoor dining, visitors can enjoy breakfast in the spacious restaurant area on the site, starting at 8:15 a.m., before beginning a tour of the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums.

  1. The Sistine Chapel

Most people know of the Sistine Chapel for the remarkable ceiling painted by Michelangelo. The famous representation of the hands of God and Adam and other figures painted by the artist still inspire figure painting to this day. However, other artists are also represented on the walls of the chapel, including Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli and Pietro Perugino. There are also various tapestries created by Raphael, with the whole collection illustrating the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Sistine chapel

Jon Rawlinson/Flickr

  1. The Vatican Museums

Founded by Pope Julius II in the 16th century, the Vatican Museums display a massive 20,000 of 70,000 works of art across the various museums and galleries, including paintings and sculptures collected by various popes throughout the centuries. There are also archaeology exhibits to be seen. Besides Renaissance Art, there is also the vast Collection of Contemporary Art, commissioned by Pope Paul VI in 1973 and opened by Pope Montini. Masterpieces include panoramas from the 19th century as well as sculptures, paintings and works of graphic art donated to be museum by artists and collectors. In total, there are 26 rooms and museums to visit, so it is difficult to do it all in one visit!

photo/ xiquinhosilva/Wikipedia

  1. Oddities at the Vatican

While a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica is interesting in itself, five stories below the basilica is a necropolis dating back to the Roman Empire. Known as the Scavi, or Vatican Necropolis, visitors can pass through three levels to reach a pagan burial ground from the 1st century. Along the way a small earthen mound can be seen which is said to contain the bones of St. Peter himself, along with the remains of a 12th-century Christian church.

photo/ Jean-Pol Grandmont via wikimedia

Another unusual attraction is the Galleria delle Carte Geograpfiche (Gallery of Maps). The gallery was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII and the exhibits cover maps representing Italy and Sicily at around the year 1580.  It is hard to imagine creating maps without satellite images and other technology of today, but the increase in exploration during those years, along with innovations like the sextant, telescope and magnetic compass, allowed cartographers to work with fair accuracy.

Enjoy your visit to the Vatican with its many museums and galleries. Remember to book your tickets ahead of time to avoid disappointment!

Author: Anne Sewell

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