Among Italian fantastic cities Vatican, the city of faith and magnificent culture, is the one that can’t be missed. It amazes you with ancient architectural marvels and museums, and most importantly, it is the center of Roman Catholic Church and the residence of the Pope.
Vatican City lies on the bank of the Tiber River on the Vatican Hill and is based in Rome. It is an absolute monarchy governed by the Pope, who has full legislative, executive and judicial powers. Though it is the smallest state in the world with just 44 hectares, it has myriad treasures and sights that attract visitors from all over the world.
Saint Peter’s Basilica, the most important attraction, was built near the tomb of Saint Peter who died during Nero’s Christian persecution. It took many years to complete the Basilica and many world- famous artists such as Rafael, Michelangelo and Bernini worked on it. This breathtaking basilica is the largest in the Christian world as it can host 20,000 people at the same time.
The Basilica is really impressive with its graceful architecture and especially with the dome designed by Michelangelo. You can climb to the top of this dome for admiring the spectacular view of the city. Religious and artistic works in Basilica will make you speechless, especially Michelangelo’s Pieta dating back to 1499, Bernini’s baldachin, beautiful mosaics and many others.
RELATED: 10 Best Ireland Castles You Should Visit
Another famous point of interest, Saint Peter’s Square is a large, elliptical square bordering Saint Peter’s Basilica. It was designed by Bernini in the 17th century. It is believed that in ancient times Nero’s Circus and Gardens were located in the place of the Square.
The design of the Saint Peter’s square is very impressive as it is bordered by two colonnades symbolizing embracing arms of Christ. Bernini and his students built 140 statues on these colonnades that feature popes, saints and other religious figures. In the center of the square you can see an Egyptian obelisk brought by Emperor Caligula in 37B.C. In the Middle Ages people believed that the Julius Cesar’s ashes were preserved in the bronze globe on the top of the obelisk. On both sides there are two beautiful fountains designed by Bernini and Maderno.
The Vatican Museums are among the most famous museums in the world as they contain fascinating Renaissance and Baroque works of art. Here the popes have collected and preserved the most precious paintings, sculptures and other works of art through many centuries.
The Vatican Museums are a complex of art galleries and museums that opened under the patronage of Clement X IV and Pius VI, who were the first to promote culture through making their collections available to public.
The first museum in the complex, Pio-Clementine Museum was named after these Popes. Through the centuries more Popes added masterpieces to these collections and as a result nowadays there are 13 museums. Museums are popular not only for the impressive works of art, but also for having such monumental gems like the Sistine Chapel, Rafael rooms and the spiral staircase.
Some people skip the rooms to reach perhaps the most famous place in Vatican museums – Sistine chapel. The interior of the chapel is really breathtaking with the floor and walls decorated by famous Italian artists. The ceiling which is decorated by Michelangelo is of special interest as it inspires you with vibrant colors and beautiful paintings of the scenes from the Bible.
For making your visit complete you would probably like to see the pope and get blessings from him. For that you can attend Papal Audiences which are held every Wednesday or to see him on Sundays when he gives a speech from his apartment window.
Vatican City view at night.
The wall of Vatican City.
RELATED: What is Terracotta Army & How to Go There