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Best Places to Visit in Vatican City, Top Attractions
The holy grail of must-see sights in Rome, the Vatican City is an essential stop when visiting Italy. It is the smallest country in the world and is run by the Roman Catholic Church. Bursting with incredible architecture, history, and famous art pieces, you won’t get bored within the Vatican City. But how to narrow these incredible sights down? Follow our list of the top places to visit on your trip to the Vatican. At just 44 hectares, Vatican City is officially the smallest sovereign state in the world. But don’t let that fool you. It might only have a population of 1,000 within its walls but thousands of visitors pass through its gates every day – which should be a clue that there’s plenty to do and see inside! Housing some of the most monumental works of art in the world as well as some of the most famous buildings, it’s no wonder for so many a trip to the Vatican is a once-in-a-lifetime visit. Of course, there are a few must-sees such as St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, but if you find yourself with a bit of spare time or want to do something off the beaten track there are plenty of unique and lesser-known spots too such as the Vatican Gardens, Mosaic Studios, or the underground archeological excavations. the Vatican City is a sovereign state, and the smallest country in the world. Within the city are some of the most important cultural and religious landmarks like the St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel. The only country in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Vatican City is a popular tourist destination. Exploring the many architectural wonders and catholic centers in the Vatican City shall instill a sense of calm and peace in your soul. Which is why we have listed some of the best places to visit in Vatican City here so that you can plan your trip accordingly.
#1- Castel Sant’Angelo
Also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, the Castel Sant’Angelo is a fortress located on the right bank of the Tiber River. Built by Rome’s Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century as a resting place for him and his family when they died, the cylindrical mausoleum was converted into a military fortress in the 14th century and now serves as a museum. Whilst technically located in Rome, Castel Sant’Angelo still gets a place on this Vatican list of top things to do for its not-so-secret passageway that leads right into the Vatican.
#2- The Pope
The Vatican City is the official home of the Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic church. If you are travelling at the right time, why not join the general audience viewing. Thousands of people attend the audience as the Pope does multiple prayers and blessings to the crowd. A great way to see the Italian culture up close and personal.
#3- St Peter’s Square
Built in the 17th century, the square is an architectural highlight. The grand piazza unfolds at the end of Rome’s Via della Conciliazione in front of the Basilica and is open 24 hours a day – unless it’s closed for a ceremony. It is a massive space, with detailed attractions within, including the Egyptian obelisk, the colonnade, as well as the Carlo Fontana’s fountain.
#4- St Peter’s Basilica
One of the largest churches in the world, St Peter’s Basilica lies on top of the Vatican Hill. Its impressive dome towers over the other city’s buildings and it has served as inspiration for many other cathedrals around the world. Construction began for the new Basilica in 1506, when the old Basilica had been torn down and wasn’t finished until 1626. One of the most impressive parts of the building is the incredible dome designed by Michelangelo and finished by Carlo Maderno in 1614. Don’t leave without climbing to the top of the dome to see the spectacular views of the surrounding city.
#5- Sistine Chapel
This historic chapel is most famous for its fresco’s pieces on its walls and ceiling, painted by famous artist and sculptor Michelangelo. Famous pieces such as ‘The Last Supper’ have played a significant role in past and presents artists, inspiring and motivating history’s greatest artists. Being an artistic treasure, the Chapel is usually very crowded, but you can avoid some of the crowds by going as soon as it opens or by booking a guided tour which includes skip-the-line tickets.
#6- Raphael’s Rooms
Once the private apartment of Pope Julius II, the area has now been divided into four rooms which are famous for the frescoes painted by Raphael and his workshop. Painted by Raphael and several other master painters, such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, some of the highlights include the monumental School of Athens fresco and the Gallery of Maps which measures 394 feet.
#7- Vatican Museums
These marvellous museums are made up of 54 galleries, put together to accommodate the popes’ large collection of over 20, 000 works. It’s not just the artwork that’s beautiful, but the galleries themselves. Glorious architecture and lavish decorations within create an outstanding atmosphere as you stroll the halls to see famous masterpieces. Largely dominated by the Renaissance period, the Museums does also feature artefacts from ancient Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
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