Visit to one of the popular roman pilgrimages and religious place, the vatican city to find your soul and mind in peace where St. Peter’s Basilica is best example of art excellence and belief for worshipers.
The Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and home to the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. It is one of the the global cultural wonders which have been awarded Unesco World Heritage status. Steeped in Christian tradition and history, Vatican City is one of the most-visited pilgrimage sites in the world. This walled city of just 110 acres is of great spiritual importance to Catholics from around the world, but you don’t have to be religious to get a sense of it being a very special and unique place.
The 109-acre walled enclave lies within the city of Rome and is a sovereign city-state as well as the seat of the papacy. Its centerpiece is St. Peter’s Basilica, built over the site where tradition says that St. Peter was crucified and buried. In front of the basilica lies St. Peter’s Square, designed by the artist Bernini in the seventeenth century in the shape of arms spread open to embrace the world. Vatican City is full of artistic as well as religious treasures, including the ceiling frescos of the Sistine Chapel and the Pieta, both by Michelangelo. Among its newest places of veneration is the tomb of Pope John Paul II, located less than 100 feet from the tomb of St. Peter.
Holy visit to St. Peter’s Basilica or piazza
Go on a holy journey of St. Peter’s Basilica, a tour into the heart of Christianity where spiritual and artistic excellence is exemplified in the masterpieces of renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini and Raphael. Enter into this extraordinary sanctuary and discover the faith and stories of popes, artists and pilgrims told through the universal language of art. The embrace of Piazza San Pietro’s colonnade, the serenity of the Pietà, the splendour of the Dome and the magnificent Baldachin testify to humankind’s desire to reach the Divine. Duration: about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Laid out in front of St. Peter’s Basilica and over a portion of the Necropolis (“City of the Dead”), this piazza is perhaps one of the most recognizable squares in all of Rome. Along each side are Bernini’s breathtaking semi-circular colonnades that give one the feeling that the Basilica is extending its arms outward to envelop the visitor to the church. On top of the colonnades are 140 marble statues of saints looking down upon the piazza. There are twin fountains midway between Piazza Pius XII and the Basilica’s stairs on either side, one by Maderno erected in 1614, and the other was built later to match it.
In the middle of the piazza is a gigantic Egyptian obelisk, originally erected in Heliopolis by King Nuncores and moved to Rome by Emperor Caligula (34-41 A.D.) and set up in the dividing island of his circus in the Vatican Meadows. This circus was later renamed Nero’s Circus. As you are facing the Basilica, this former Meadows is to the left of the Basilica, past the left colonnade where Paul VI Hall now stands and where St. Peter was crucified upside down.
St Peter’s Square
The iconic St Peter’s Square is known worldwide and is of baroque design and overlooked by St Peter’s Basilica, a huge basilica with a main dome that’s 136m high and 42m wide, and where a staggering 20,000 people can pray. Inside are priceless artworks, 45 altars and 11 chapels. Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini and other great Renaissance artists all worked on and had great influence over the design of St Peter’s Basilica. Providing a fitting approach to the great church is the huge, elliptical St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro), designed by Bernini and built between 1656 and 1667. There are two beautiful fountains in the square, the south/left one by Carlo Maderno (1613) and the northern/right one by Bernini (1675).
The Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina) in Vatican City has become one of the most famous art galleries in the western world. Michelangelo’s famous Sistine ceiling depicts scenes from Genesis in dramatic and moving detail, while The Last Judgment on the end wall is striking and powerful. As if that were not enough, the side walls are covered with important Renaissance frescoes by other artists, depicting biblical scenes and contemporary popes. But the Sistine Chapel is more than the sum of its artistic wonders: it is a symbolic statement of papal authority and the place in which papal elections in conclave are held to this day.
Amazing Bernini’s Baldacchino
At the crossing of the transepts is the central focus of the interior, the baldacchino. This monumental canopy shelters the papal altar and the holy relics of St. Peter. Artistically, it also serves to fill the vertical space under Michelangelo’s great dome. Made of 927 tons of dark bronze (removed from the Pantheon’s roof in 1633) accented with gold vine leaves, the baldacchino stands 90 feet (30 meters) tall. The baldacchino was created by Lorenzo Bernini from 1624 to 1633 under the direction of Barberini pope Urban VIII, who added Baroque embellishment to much of Rome.
The Vatican Gardens have been a place of quiet and meditation for the popes since 1279 when Nicholas III moved his residence back to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace. Within the new walls, which he had built to protect his residence, he planted an orchard, a lawn and a garden. The event is recorded among other places on a stone plaque which can be viewed in the “Sala dei Capitani” of the “Palazzo dei Conservatori” on Rome’s Capitoline Hill. Created around the hill of Saint Egidio (where the “Palazzetto del Belvedere” is located today) and the courtyards of the Vatican Museums, this was to be the first garden in the Vatican. However, should you visit the Vatican Gardens today you would begin by viewing a totally different area from that first orchard, one located in a more recent addition to what is now Vatican City State. It is there that larger and more recent gardens have been planted, covering together with the original garden about half of the 44 hectares of Vatican City.
What’s great about the Vatican?
The Vatican area is quiet in the evening, making it ideal for couples and families, however Rome’s ancient centre is only a 10-minute taxi drive away with its restaurants, pizzerias and bars.
One of Rome’s most visited places, there can be large queues due to the amount of people visiting and the security checks that take place before allowing anyone into the Vatican City and its museums. However staying just outside the city walls means you won’t waste any time getting in each day.
Lovers of art and history will find the Vatican City and its museums fascinating, but to appreciate all the sights fully requires more than just a day, so staying in the surrounding Vatican area allows visitors to do so with ease.
Where to Stay in the Vatican City
The Residenza Paolo Vi is directly facing St Peter’s Basilica and is in an enviable location.
The Orange Hotel is located 300m from the Vatican City. It is an eco-friendly hotel and 70% of the energy is supplied by solar power. The restaurant is on the roof and has stunning views over the Sistine Chapel.
Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s
Vatican City is one of the most interesting and beautiful sites in the world; your expert guide will take you to some of the major attractions, as well as to some lesser-known spots that other tourists often miss. You will receive a broad base for understanding the remarkable history, architecture, and politics of the Vatican. Discover one of the most beautiful and storied sites in the world with skip-the-line access to the Vatican. On this fantastic 3-hour tour you will see the Vatican Museums, the exquisite Sistine Chapel, and the dramatic St. Peter’s Basilica. Per person package US$ 35.16. To know more visit: getyourguide.
- Skip the long lines to the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica
- Tour in a small group that never exceeds 25 people
- See all the most important sights in the Vatican City
- Feast your eyes on the artwork of old masters like Michelangelo and Raphael
- Explore the Pio Clementine Museum, Belvedere Courtyard, and more