The Vatican is the smallest country in the world with an area of 0.44 square kilometers. It is a continuation of the papal country in history and a special form of caesaropapism. The Vatican’s artistic and religious colors are striking. You can overlook the entire church and the panoramic view of Rome at the central dome of the St. Petersburg Cathedral. People say that it’s the closest place to heaven while the Vatican’s tomb is just below the cathedral, which is a shocking contrast. Although it’s the smallest country, you have a lot of things to do in Vatican.
1. Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano
Built in the 16th century, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest Catholic churches in the world and the center of Catholicism. Although it’s not the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, it is still regarded as the most sacred place of the Catholic Church. The hall houses murals and sculptures of many artists from the European Renaissance, such as Michelangelo and Raphael. Pietro is the work of Michelangelo. The sculpture is on the right side of the gate and inside the small hall called Virgin. The central dome (Cupola) was designed by Michelangelo and you can reach to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica through the narrow circular staircase, where you can overlook the entire St. Peter’s Basilica and the panoramic view of Rome. The Vatican’s Tomb (SacreGrotte) is located below the cathedral and is the tomb of many popes. The Pope pray for the public in the church every Sunday. So you will see the Pope if you are lucky enough. It’s prohibited to enter the church if you wear too casually.
2. Vatican Museum
The Vatican Museum is one of the greatest museums in the world, and the collections are the collection and accumulation of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. There’s a dazzling array of beautiful exhibits, and some exhibits are full of religious features. The murals are also very impressive. Therefore it’s like an artistic ocean and a cultural corridor, which deserve being called the world treasure house. Visitors also have the opportunity to have breakfast in the museum. The earliest time to enter the museum is 7:15 in the morning. You go firstly to the courtyard for breakfast. The breakfast is full of various drinks, fruits and foods including yogurt, juice, coffee, cookie, pancakes and so on. After half an hour of dining, the staff distribute the interpreter and you can enter into the museum around 8:00. At this time, there are few people that you can enjoy better the art work one hour before the opening.
Tips: Be sure to make an appointment online in order to avoid long queues. It costs 65€ for the breakfast and the museum and be sure to book tickets in advance and pay attention that the breakfast isn’t offered every day.
3. Piazza San Pietro
St. Peter’s Square is located in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica. The entire square is in the huge elliptical shape like a keyhole surrounded by a cylinder. It’s grand and imposing with natural beauty. It’s in harmony with the St. Peter’s Cathedral. When building the plaza, religion placed the sculptures of persecuted scientists here to commemorate their sacrifices for the science. Every Sunday, the Pope hold a grand mass in the square where believers from all over the world gather to listen to the Pope’s speech. In addition, the Pope holds also a night prayer on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. There is an obelisk built in 1586 in the middle of the square and it was completed by 150 horses and 47 winches.
4. Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is a Catholic chapel in the Vatican’s main palace and next to St. Peter’s Basilica. There is the world-famous dome painting “Genesis” by Michelangelo and the mural “The Last Judgment”. The composition of ‘The Last Judgment’ is divided into several layers. There’s the angel at the top layer and Jesus Christ in the middle core. The third layer is with the people who are being judged. And the bottom layer is the depiction of hell. There are about 400 persons in the whole picture, and each character has its own characteristics. At the same time, it is also the venue for the election of the Pope.
5. Stanze Di Raffaello
There are four rooms and 16 murals that Raphael led his apprentices to paint during 10 years. Among the murals, the most famous is the Academy of Athens. It was created between 1509 and 1510 when Raphael was only 26 years old. This mural has a large lineup with Plato and Aristotle in the center followed by their more than 50 students. This painting not only maximizes the spatial perspective skills that Raphael is good at, but also portrays the portraits of each scholar. The personalities of each character are brought vividly to life. Another famous painting is the “Sacred Controversy”. The picture is divided into two parts symbolizing heaven and earth. Raphael uses two opposite arcs and a perspective of the far and near method to deepen the vast space effect.
6. Obelisco Vaticano
The Obelisk is located in the heart of St. Peter’s Square. It’s 25.5 meters high and built in 1586. The Roman Emperor Caligula transported it to Rome from the market square in Alexandria, Egypt. The project employed 900 people, 150 horses and 47 winches. It took five months to stand this huge stone monument. The square floor centered on the obelisk is lined with a compass dial. At the top of the obelisk is the clan of the Roman Chigi family: five hills, a bronze star and a cross. The Pope Alexander II was born of this family. It’s said that ashes of Caesar are buried under the obelisk and the remains of the crucifixion of Jesus is preserved.
7. Vatican Garden
The garden is located in the western part of the Vatican and occupies more than half of the mini country. The tour of this large-scale royal garden requires an online reservation in advance. There are two famous sculptures in the garden, one is bronze pinecone and the other is earth. It’s the Garden of Eden that is extraordinarily sacred and transcendent in the world in the eyes of believers around the world; it’s a beautiful garden with a ingenious design and unique scenery in the eyes of atheists.
8. Cupola di San Pietro
The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is the top of St. Peter’s Basilica where we can overlook the entire Vatican City. There are two kinds of tickets for ascending the dome: take the elevator or climb by yourself. The elevator is only up to the 1/3 of the dome, you have to climb the narrow spiral stairs for the rest. When you reach almost the top, you need to bend over and pass sideways. Then you can overlook the entire Vatican City on the roof, especially the St. Peter’s Square. Standing on the circular, you can overlook the interior of the church and enjoy the large painting on the inner wall of the round plaque. It took a hundred years for the construction of this dome. The first was designed by Bramante in 1506. After his death in 1514, Raphael continued to construct the dome. Six years later, Raphael passed away. The church once canceled the construction of the dome. Michelangelo succeeded the work at the age of 71, and restored the dome in the name of ” the love for God, for the Virgin and for St. Peter”.
9. Baldacchino di San Pietro, di Bernini
This bronze canopy is located above the pope’s altar and under the dome of the church. It’s the work of the Baroque outstanding architect Bernini. It can be said to be the treasure of the town hall. The four spiral-up pillars are very characteristic climbing up like a dragon. The carvings are rough but fine, and there are the leaves inlaid in the pillars of the copper. The tops of the four corners are four angels. Although it’s only more than 20 meters, it still looks brilliant and solemn under the dome because of the complex decoration and unique design. The semi-circular railing in front of the canopy illuminate always the 99 long light. Only the pope can stand on the altar. He faces the rising sun and holds the mass in the pilgrim.
10. Vatican Soldiers
The Vatican soldiers are all Swiss nationals, because Switzerland has always been a neutral country and is very loyal. The soldiers with the clown clothes they wear is a must-see when you are in Vatican. They are simply like the living historical sculptures wearing old-fashioned costumes designed by Michelangelo. In the history, the Swiss Guards had fought fiercely to fulfill their duties to shield the Pope’s evacuation. 147 of the 189 soldiers were killed and the remaining 42 soldiers successfully covered the Pope’s safe evacuation from Rome. The Swiss soldiers were brave and not afraid of death, they were highly regarded and strictly trusted by the Roman emperors and popes, so it’s another reason why there are always Swiss soldiers in Vatican.
Discover the smallest country by yourself with our great pocket Wifi. Be sure to rent our equipment before leaving and I’m sure that you will enjoy your great stay in Vatican.