In the heart of Rome, the Vatican City serves primarily as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope.
Inside, you’ll find St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Gardens. But there is much more to explore. Below are some of the most beautiful and most interesting places you must see during a trip to Vatican City.
Why Visit This Enigmatic City State?
Vatican City is a sovereign nation-state with a population of around 453 people. In 1929 it became an independent state, making it the smallest independent country in the world. However, aside from the numbers, it is a location steeped in mystery and somewhere that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. According to the Vatican tour operators at https://vatican-tickets.tours/, it is also home to a vast range of unique artworks that have been lovingly created by artisans dating back hundreds of centuries. Visiting the mysterious city-state is a great way to delve deep into the history of Christianity and discover fascinating insights into how it is run. However, Vatican City isn’t just for religious pilgrims; this post will highlight some of its most fascinating attractions.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most important churches in the world. It also happens to be where the Pope conducts the most important sermons, usually Christmas mass. However, aside from its (admittedly important) religious aspect, it stands as a testament to human creativity and artistry. From the moment you set eyes on its elegant exterior to entering its awe-inspiring interior, you will be utterly amazed. You can easily spend a whole day exploring the grounds and have only experienced a fraction of what it offers.
The Chapel was built over five years from 1478 to 1481 by Pope Sixtus IV, and it is one of the most famous examples of Renaissance architecture. Visiting the Chapel requires a guided tour, which can be booked online or at the ticket office. Tours are conducted in various languages, so you can get all the information you need to enjoy your trip. The Chapel is also known for its numerous paintings including the famous “Last Judgment” painting on the ceiling. Moreover, it is home to arguably one of the most famous artworks in history outside the Mona Lisa; The Creation of Adam.
Also known as the picture gallery, the Pinacoteca is replete with 16 rooms of glorious artworks from different artists of different ages. Although it was ransacked by Napoleon during the height of his expeditionary campaigns, there are still hundreds of paintings to be analyzed and appreciated by the creative types among you. In many respects, you can observe the evolution of Western art from the middle ages onwards as you progress through each room. A guided tour is a must if you want to truly appreciate the many stories these masterpieces have to tell.
Piazza San Pietro
If you visit St. Peter’s Basilica, you will inevitably explore this enormous plaza. Piazza San Pietro (AKA St. Peter’s Square) is the largest square in the city of Vatican City and is located in the northwest corner of St. Peter’s Basilica. It is a large open area with two large fountains and a 25-meter Egyptian obelisk at its center. The obelisk has a fascinating history all of its own. It was brought into Rome by Caligula in AD 39 from Heliopolis of ancient Egypt. Aside from the impressive central features, it contains no less than 140 statues around and in front of the main oval area. It is a sight to behold, and with such heritage in every nook and cranny, it is a history lover’s delight.
The Vatican Gardens are one of the most visited tourist attractions in the whole of Vatican City. There are hundreds of species of plants that make up this garden, along with its unique architecture. It has been developed over the centuries, but its first parts were created for Pope Nicholas II over 800 years ago. Originally it was designed as a place for peaceful contemplation, where popes and holy people could go to reflect on their place in the world. As a result of centuries of growth, the tiny city-state’s landscaped gardens and grassy spaces now cover nearly one-half of its land area. It is quite the sight to behold, and you can also use your time there to ponder life and your place in the world.
Vatican City is one of the most mysterious and fascinating places on the planet. You might think such a small area will not have much to offer, but you would be wrong. With so much to see and do, you can spend a lifetime without ever scratching the surface.