When someone arrives home from Rome and says he didn’t visit Colosseum or has no idea if he saw the Trevi fountain among the others, people will think he is weird. Rome is full of must see attractions, include Vatican, what to miss would be a sin if we are in the capital of Italy. Whe hearing its name most people immediately think about the Chatolic religion, that this is the seat of the Pope, but the real highlight of Vatican City is the interweave of religion and art in a supremely high standard. Many of Rome’s attractions can be found in this tiny state and if someone is susceptible to the arts, only a few hours won’t be enough for him to discover every beauty of Vatican City.
The more than 2000-year-old Vatican officially formed as an indapendent state within Italy in 1929 when Pope XI. Pius entered into a contract with Italian government. It was built on Vatican hill, where in 64 AC a lot of Christians were massacred by Nero’s command. According to the Catholic religion one of the martyrs was Apostle Peter, the later St. Peter, the first pope. The area of Vatican was many times larger in the middle of the 19th century than now (0,44 km2), today the number of its inhabitants is 800 – most of them are pope’s stuff and other majority church officials – they easily would fit in a larger New York apartment. Vatican City is enjoying full autonomy, has its own money, stamp, telephone- and television companies and even has its own army. Its protection is provided by the famous Swiss Guard.
Each year more than 4 million people visit the most sacred place of Catholicism. Among them there are at least as many pilgrims as tourists, who are primarily attracted by Vatican’s unique art collections. One of the major attractions not only of Citta del Vaticano but also of Rome is St. Peter’s Basilica, the most important among every Catholic church in the world which – as for the religion – was built up by Emperor Constantine above Apostle Peter’s tomb. The exact date when the construction started is unknown. Presumably the foundating stones were laid between 319-322. The building is so monumental that it’s almost impossible do discover all the details, altough such masterworks can be seen here as Michelangelo’s, Bernini’s, Bramante’s and Raffaello’s.
In one of the biggest Catholich church of the world it’s very hard to decide where to look, to discover every marbles, mosaics, works of art would take many hours. In grottos under the Basilica we can see tombs and sarkophagi of popes – allegedly includes St. Peter’s tomb. The entrance to the Basilica is free, but we suggest to pay attention what to wear. Strict rules apply for men and women, doesn’t allow to wear short skirt, short, sleeveless T-shirt.
The huge and imposing square in front of the Basilica also bears St. Peter’s name. The elliptical square is surrounded 13 m tall Doric column on both sides. Because of tourists the square is very busy all year round, but at Chrismas and Easter is much more crowdy. From all over the world hundreds of thousands of people come to hear the papal blessing. In the middle of the square stands an ancient obelisque, which was shipped here from the Egyptian Hieropolis, the Nile Delta region.
Altough the Sistine Chapel is always crowded, it worths to wait, because nobody shouldn’t leave Vatican City without visit the chapel with the frescoes which was created for 4 years by Michelangelo. His most important works can be seen here together with famous Renessaince paintings. The chapel not only home of priceless monuments and one of the world most famous attractions, but the Sistine Chapel, built in 1475-1481, has an important function: the papal elections take place here.
The Sistine Chapel is the part of Vatican Museum. This a complex collection of ancient Roman, Greek, Etrusc monuments, early Christians and medieval Renessaince masterpieces and other monuments until the 19th century. Sure we can’t visit everything in a single day, better if we select the most interesting collections before. Vatican Museum can be visit free on the last Sunday of every month.
Vatican city is a fascinating destination, so it’s a good idea to planning the sightseeing in advance, to make sure to visit the most important attractions. Vatican’s travel agency located on the left side of the St. Peter Square, best to start the walk here. In the tourist office we can buy maps, guidebooks, but also can book for a nice trip to the Vatican Gardens. Here we find the most beautiful examples of the 1500-1600’s years Italian gardening as well as Pope IV. Pius’s summer residence. If we would like to send a posctard home, use the Vatican Post which is more relieable than the Italian.