St Peter's Basilica Dome, Vatican City Museum

Vatican City sits inside the eternal city of Rome and for centuries it’s been the beating heart of the Catholic religion and home of the Pope. There’s an incredible amount of things to explore in this small city state that I’ve summed up my favourite facts and experiences below.

1. The Smallest Country

Many people don’t realise as they enter the Piazza San Pietro (or St. Peter’s Square) that they’re leaving Rome and Italy altogether. At 0.2 square miles, Vatican City is recognised as the smallest country in the world with under 1,000 residents.

View of St Peter's Square at sunset from the Basilica

2. One of the World’s largest art collections

The paintings and art work inside Vatican Museum stretch nearly 9 miles with room after room of breathtaking imagery from Caravaggio, Raphael, Michelangelo and more. You’ll be blown away by the scale of the museum and you’ll need a whole day to appreciate it all.

School of Athens by Raphael, Famous artworks inside Vatican Museum
Beautiful painted rooms in Vatican Museum
The Hall of Maps in Vatican Museum
Beautiful religious paintings inside Vatican Museum
First image: School of Athens, Raphael. Third image: The Hall of Maps

3. Thousands of years of history

It’s not just Biblical art for the Catholic religion you’ll discover inside The Vatican Museums, the collection includes artefacts from across the world including Egyptian tablets, mummified human remains and statues from nearby Ancient Rome to as far as Indonesia.

Related: Have a look at these eight tips to visiting Rome on a budget

Spiral staircase inside Vatican Museum
Egyptian Artefacts inside Vatican MuseumCloseup of St Peters Basilica Entrance with Sculptures
Sculptures inside Vatican Museum

4. The tomb of Saint Peter

Excavations beneath the Basilica (that includes the tomb of Saint Peter) is actually open to the public, but with a limit of around 250 people per day. Therefore you must contact the Vatican Museum in advance to have a chance of going on this fascinating journey during your trip.

Related: A visit to St. Domitilla’s catacombs on the outskirts of Rome.

The gardens of Vatican CityReligious paintings and tapestries in the Vatican Museum archives
Amazing religious artwork in Vatican Museum

5. Michelangelo’s masterpieces

The Sistine Chapel is arguably one of the finest artworks to have ever been created. Commissioned by Pope Julius II in the early 1500s, Michelangelo painted famous scenes from the Bible over the walls and ceilings of this breathtaking room. Photography is not permitted inside the chapel, but you can get a sneak peak on the Vatican’s website. Below is the Pietà by Michelangelo.

Related: Images of Rome at night that’ll inspire wanderlust.

Pietà by Michelangelo inside St Peter's BasilicaA view of Vatican City at night from the River Tiber in Rome

6. The largest Church in the World

Saint Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world and is best appreciated beneath the large dome where the cross layout meets. It’s one of (if not the) most awe-inspiring places you’ll ever step foot in – the photos do not do it justice! This is also where you can see ‘Pietà’, another masterpiece of Michelangelo (mentioned above), who created this incredible sculpture when he was just 22 years old!

Saint Peter's Square at dusk
Inside Saint Peter's BasilicaBeautiful sculptures inside Saint Peter's Basilica

7. The Sunday Angelus Prayer

On Sundays at noon the Pope delivers a prayer in Italian from his apartment balcony that overlooks Saint Peter’s Square. It’s a wonderful event to witness with thousands of spectators from all nationalities paying respect to this religious tradition.

The Pope's Sunday Angelus Prayer
A Sunday Angelus Prayer from the Pope in Saint Peter's SquareRoman Sculptures in Vatican Museum

This post is sponsored by Travel Cast TV, a travel video platform.
Have you visited Rome and Vatican city yet? What were your favourite places to explore? Let me know!

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