Surprising things about Vatican City and Museum

St Peter's Basilica Dome, Vatican City Museum

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.

This post has been sponsored by Travel Cast TV, a new video platform that I’ve shared my Rome and Vatican City montage on above. If you’re viewing this post on an iOS device, click here to view the video.

1. The Smallest Country
View of St Peter's Square at sunset from the Basilica

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
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

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
Spiral staircase inside Vatican Museum
Egyptian Artefacts inside Vatican Museum

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.

Closeup of St Peters Basilica Entrance with Sculptures
Sculptures inside Vatican Museum

Have a look at my eight tips to visiting Rome on a budget (opens in a new tab).

4. The tomb of Saint Peter
The gardens of Vatican City

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.

Religious paintings and tapestries in the Vatican Museum archives
Amazing religious artwork in Vatican Museum

Check out my previous post on St. Domitilla’s catacombs on the outskirts of Rome.

5. Michelangelo’s masterpieces
Pietà by Michelangelo inside St Peter's Basilica

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.

A view of Vatican City at night from the River Tiber in Rome

Click to view my images of Rome at night that’ll inspire wanderlust.

6. The largest Church in the World
Saint Peter's Square at dusk
Inside Saint Peter's Basilica

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!

Beautiful sculptures inside Saint Peter's Basilica

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
The Pope's Sunday Angelus Prayer
A Sunday Angelus Prayer from the Pope in Saint Peter's Square

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.

Roman Sculptures in Vatican Museum

Have you visited Rome and Vatican city yet? What were your favourite places to explore? Let me know!


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