When in Rome Visit the Vatican City at Your Own Pace!
Visiting the Vatican City is a Must for most travelers and visitors traveling to Rome. The Vatican is one of the most interesting and breathtakingly beautiful place in the world: St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’ Square.
Here is my Vatican State 101 to help guests and visitors to enjoy the Vatican City and its treasures worry-free.
The Vatican City, one of the most sacred places in Christendom, attests to a great history and a formidable spiritual venture. A unique collection of artistic and architectural masterpieces lie within the boundaries of this small state. At its centre is St Peter’s Basilica, with its double colonnade and a circular piazza in front and bordered by palaces and gardens. The Basilica, erected over the tomb of St Peter the Apostle, is the largest Christian religious building in the world, the fruit of the combined genius of Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini and Maderno.
Vatican City, officially the State of the Vatican City, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, the capital city of Italy. At approximately 44 hectares (110 acres or 0.44 km2), and with a population of around 900, it is the smallest country in the world by both area and population. In 1984, the Vatican was added by UNESCO to the List of World Heritage Sites; it is the only one to consist of an entire country.
The Vatican State has three entrances, under the surveillance of the Swiss Guards: the Bronze Door (to the right of Saint Peter), the Vault of the Bells (to the left of Saint Peter), and Saint Anne’s Gate (Via di Porta Angelica).
Saint Peter Basilica
The Most Visited Basilica in the world adorned with Artistic Treasures.
The Basilica is open from 7 AM till 7 PM. Inside the Basilica you can visit:
Holy Vatican Grotto (Tombs of the Popes)-Entrance from the right transept.Opening hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
Historic-Artistic Museum (Treasure Saint Peter)
Opening hours: 8 AM to 5.40 PM. Tickets: € 6
The Dome: Entrance from the portico.
Opening hours: 8 AM to 4.45 PM. Tickets: € 7 including lift ride, € 4 without lift.
Audience with the Pope
Every Wednesday at 10.30 AM the Pope gives a general Audience in Saint Peter Square or in the Paul VI hall. During the summer months the Papal Audience takes place in Castel Gandolfo located in the beautiful hills of the Roman Castles (Castelli Romani).
To attend the Papal Audience a request must be presented, well in advance (5-7 days for individuals, 12-15 days for groups) to the Papal House Prefecture (fax. no. +39 0669885863), specifying name, date of preference, hotel in Rome, and for groups number of participants. Individuals may pick up the ticket for the audience at the Bronze Door of the Vatican City.
The Tomb of Saint Peter and the Necropolis also known as Scavi
To visit the excavations or Scavi under the Basilica of Saint Peter, you must present a written request, at least 15 days in advance but during peak season 30 days in advance, to the Vatican Excavations Office (firstname.lastname@example.org), specifying name and number of visitors, language, date of preference and address. The requests may be sent by fax or e-mail in a form directly at the Office (which is to the right past of the Bells).
Opening hours: 8 AM to 5 PM, closed on Religious Holidays. Tickets: € 10 including a guide for approx. 2 hrs tour.
The Vatican Gardens
The Papal Vatican Gardens have been a place of quiet and meditation for the Popes ever since 1279 when Nicholas III moved his residence back to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace and enclosed this cultivated area with walls. Today these walls are no longer standings owing to the site’s transformation at the beginning of the 16th century. Two new courtyards were created: the Belvedere and the “Pigna” or Pine Cone.
The Vatican Gardens in Vatican City are urban gardens and parks which cover approximately 20 hectares (49 acres) which is most of the Vatican Hill.
The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Museums contain masterpieces of painting, sculpture and other works of art collected by the Popes through the centuries. The Museums include several monumental works of art, such as the Sistine Chapel, the Chapel of Beato Angelico, the Papal Raphael Rooms and Loggia and the Borgia Apartment. As of 2008, the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel were visited by 4,441,734 people so book your tickets on-line in advance by visiting the Holy See Official Website www.vatican.va
The entrance is from Via Vaticano, a short walk from piazza Risorgimento or the Ottaviano Metro Station.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday-9 AM to 4 PM, closes at 6 PM, 2 hours longer than last year!
Closed on Sundays, except for the last Sunday of the month when the visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel is free of charge-9 AM to 12.30 AM- closes at 2 PM and on Religious Holidays.
Tickets: Adult € 14, Kids € 8.
NEW! Visit the Vatican Museums after Sunset
Every Friday in September and October 2009 the Vatican Museums will be open to visitors from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm (last entrance at 9:30 pm).
Visitors will be able to admire important collections, following an itinerary that includes the Upper Galleries of the Vatican Museums (Candelabra, Tapestries and Maps) the Papal Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel.
Booking online is mandatory.
Historical Museums of the Vatican City
The Historical Museums of the Vatican City is located in the Noble Apartment of the Lateran Apostle Palace. Entrance from the hall of St. John in the Lateran Basilica in Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano.
Closed on Sunday and on Religious Holidays.
Tickets: € 5, or you may use your ticket from the Vatican Museums within 5 days of its issue.
Vatican Dress Code
A dress code is enforced for entry into St. Peter’s Basilica and Churches in general in Italy. The code is based upon what is considered “modest” and “appropriate” dress for visiting a Catholic church, and visitors are reminded that, although St. Peter’s is an architectural and artistic monument, it is first a place of worship and prayer. The dress code forbids:
- hats for lay men inside the Basilica
- shorts/skirts above the knees
- sleeveless shirts
- shirts exposing the navel
- shirts for women that expose cleavage
- shirts which contain profanity
Restaurants & Pizzerie & Ice Cream near the Vatican State
Enjoy your Vatican visit and please, let me know if I missed anything or if you want to share with us any Vatican tip or insight!
Ciao from Rome:-)
Since 1997 Nancy Aiello Tours, based in Rome, specializes in Tailor-Made Private Guided Vatican, Rome & Italy Tours for Leisure & Business Travelers.
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