Surrounded by the Italian capital Rome is Vatican City, the beating heart of the Catholic religion where the Pope resides. 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.
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1. The Smallest Country
Many people don’t realise as they enter the Piazza San Pietro (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.
2. One of the World’s largest art collections
First image: School of Athens, Raphael. Third image: The Hall of Maps
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. I couldn’t believe how huge the museum actually is, remember to give yourself a few hours to appreciate it all.
3. Thousands of years of history
Even though The Vatican has been the influential centre of the Catholic religion for centuries, the museum is also home to artefacts from around the world, including Egyptian tablets, mummified human remains and statues from Ancient Rome to Indonesia.
Have a look at my eight tips to visiting Rome on a budget (opens in a new tab).
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 museum in advance to have a chance of going on this fascinating journey during your trip. You can find out more information about exploring the Tomb and Necropolis by clicking here.
Check out my previous post on St. Domitilla’s catacombs on the outskirts of Rome.
5. Michelangelo’s masterpieces
Pietà by Michelangelo
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.
Click to view my images of Rome at night that’ll inspire wanderlust.
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 I’ve ever stepped 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!
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.
Have you visited Rome and Vatican city yet? What were your favourite places to explore? Let me know!