Vatican City is the smallest country in the world. This enclave can be found within Rome and is the holy place within the Roman Catholic Church. Because of its history, its role within the Catholic Church and the many sights, Vatican City is one of the absolute top excursions for people who make a city trip to Rome. Therefore, be prepared for crowds, sometimes long queues and an enormous amount of impressions that you will gain during a visit to Vatican City. If you know little about what there is to see and want to know more about the background, it is wise to book a tour accompanied by an experienced guide. The advantage of an organized tour is that you do not have to join the huge queue of people waiting to buy a ticket for the Vatican Museums. Such tours you can pre-book here. Check topmbadirectory for how to get to Vatican City.
Top 10 sights of Vatican City
#1. St. Peter’s basilica
From St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) in Vatican City you have an incredibly beautiful view of St. Peter’s Basilica. The construction of the current church started in the sixteenth century. At the time, Pope Julius II ruled the Catholic world from Vatican City. St. Peter’s Basilica has a clear shape of a cross. Ultimately, the now world-famous Italian artist Michelangelo Buonarroti got hold of the design and several adjustments were made. The basilica was finally consecrated in 1626. Inside the St. Peter’s Basilica it becomes clear how much art and creativity have been put into this project. Gian Lorenzo Bernini in particular has clearly left his mark. The impressive dome has a prominent place above the most sacred place, namely the tomb of Peter. The crypt containing Peter’s tomb is open to the public. It is allowed to visit the necropolis in small groups. Under the dome you can admire Bernini’s immense baldachin with the papal altar made by Maderna below it. Besides indicating the place where the tomb is located, it represents various symbols associated with power, wisdom, worship and of course Christ. Other notable works of art are: Michelangelo’s Pietà, Fugue d’Attila and the monument of Leo XI by Alessandro Algardi and the funerary monument Sixtus IV by Antonio del Pollaiuolo. If you would like to receive some more background information, it is recommended to book a guided tour. St. Peter’s Basilica is very large and carries a lot of history.If you do not have the opportunity to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, it is recommended to visit the smaller version in Oudenbosch in Brabant. Basilica of Saints Agatha and Barbara was built in the nineteenth century. Check simplyyellowpages for mass media and culture of Vatican City.
#2. Sistine Chapel
As a top attraction in Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel can count on a lot of interest every day. The Sistine Chapel is part of the Apostolic Palace, where the reigning pope resides. Here too, you can admire excellent works of art by artists such as Michelangelo, Pietro Perugino, Cosimo Roseli and Sandro Botticelli. Most impressive are the ceiling paintings by Michelangelo and Raphael Sanzio da Urbino in the chapel. And the ‘The Last Judgment’, which was made by Michelangelo in the sixteenth century, also attracts a lot of attention. Avoid the queue!
There are always huge queues in front of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. To be able to enter faster, there is the possibility to buy so-called ‘skip-the-line’ tickets. You must purchase it online in advance. Buy skip-the-line tickets for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel here
#3. Vatican Museums
What once started with a collection of statues has grown into an impressive museum complex with the largest art collection in the world. Pope Clement XIV and Pius VI both thought that exhibiting different art collections would generate enthusiasm for promoting culture and art history. Today you can visit the Vatican Historical Museum, The Tapestry Museum, the Egiziano Museum, the Ethnological Museum, the Pio-Clementino Museum and the Automobile Museum, among others.More information about the Vatican Museums
#4. Saint Peters Square
From Via della Conciliazione you can look out over the enormous St. Peter’s Square with St. Peter’s Basilica behind it. The square was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The square has no less than 284 Doric columns and on the colonnade, which is also called the colonnade, there are about 140 statues of various saints. The central point of the square is accentuated by an Egyptian obelisk about forty meters high. The obelisk was placed on this spot around 1586 by order of Pope Sixtus V. To the left and right of the obelisk you will find two identical fountains from the seventeenth century. The first was designed by Carlo Maderno, a Swiss architect who is also credited with the Palazzo Barberini.
Many probably know the square from images on TV, when the Pope gives his speech from the balcony. The square is then often completely filled with people from all kinds of different continents.
Palace Behind the right colonnade of Saint Peter’s Square, the Apostolic Palace is the residence of the Pope. The living and working quarters of the head of the Roman Catholic Church have some fourteen hundred different rooms. Some of them belong to the private domain of the Pope. During the very hot summer days, the Pope prefers to stay in Castel Gandolfo, which is in the Italian province of Latium.
#6. Vatican Library
The resounding ‘Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana’ is located in a small palace on the cortile del Belvedere. Quite early in history it was decided to set up a kind of library where all kinds of important documents and later also books and other collections could be kept. However, setting up an inventory turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected. The first librarian was appointed in the eighth century. Only at the end of the thirteenth century, during the reign of Boniface VIII, things were somewhat put in order. In this period the first university of Rome was also founded by the same Boniface. Today the library is open for scientific research. The recently restored rooms now house millions of archival documents, including state documents, deeds of the Holy See, letters from Michelangelo, love letters, catalogs and a vast collection of scientific material. The oldest document comes from the eighth century.
#7. Vatican Gardens
Between the palaces, chapels, fountains and museums, there is a lot of greenery to be found within the walls of Vatican City. The Vatican gardens ‘Giardini Vaticani’ therefore count about two hundred and thirty thousand square meters. The gardens originally originated from an orchard and vineyard that were commissioned by Pope Nicholas III. Over the centuries, various adjustments have been made and a number of outbuildings have been added. The many trees provide pleasant cooling during the sometimes very hot days in Italy and Vatican City.
During the excavations that were carried out around 1940, some parts of the Roman Empire were uncovered. The findings, such as the necropolis (cemetery) are made under St. Peter’s Basilica. Part of the structures that were uncovered include the tomb of St. Peter. And this was also the objective when Pope Pius XI ordered the excavation. This fulfilled his wish to be buried close to Peter. However, it has never been scientifically proven that the remains of apostle Peter are actually here. The assumption that this is the case is the main reason that many pilgrims come to the pilgrimage site of St. Peter’s Basilica.
#9. Post office
Even the clergy within the Vatican City sometimes have mail and parcels to send. And above all, a lot of mail is received. So that also requires a post office. The Vatican Post Office is a service of the Ministry of Telecommunications of the Governorate of Vatican City. For enthusiasts, it is possible to buy envelopes and stamps as a souvenir, for example. The stamps are only valid when they are posted in special mailboxes marked ‘Poste Vaticane’ or when you hand them in at this post office.
The over forty-meter-high obelisk at the central point of St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City has not always stood on this spot. The obelisk was built in the year 37 AD. brought to Rome. It was given a prominent place on the spina of Nero’s circus. It remained in that place until the sixteenth century. After that, the new and current St. Peter’s Basilica was built and Pope Sixtus V had the obelisk moved to the newly constructed St. Peter’s Square. This extremely laborious project was carried out by the architect Domemico Fontana. He received help from about nine hundred people and many horses who put the obelisk in its new place by means of ropes and wooden rollers.