A Day at the Vatican | Tour Saint Peter 's Square

A Day at the Vatican | Tour Saint Peter 's Square

A tour of Rome is not complete without a day at the Vatican to visit the Holy See, explore St. Peter’s Basilica the world largest Christian church and tour the Vatican Museums the most impressive collection of fine art.

The Vatican City is one of most fascinating areas in Rome with an appeal that is quite unique. In the very small Vatican State visitors and devoted Catholics will appreciate an impressive collection of artistic and cultural treasures starting from St. Peter’s Square, one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of all time, one of the many open-air museums in Rome!

Designed by Bernini and built between 1656 and 1667, Saint Peter’s Square features two gigantic semicircles each comprising four rows of Doric columns totaling 284 columns adorned by 140 statues of Saints. In the middle of St. Peter’s Square is the famous Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome to grace Nero’s circus and erected in its current location by Pope Sixtus V in 1586. There are also two beautiful 17th century fountains adorning each side of the Holy Square. Between the obelisk and each fountain you’ll see a circular stone that marks the focal points of an ellipse and standing on one of these points, it appears to comprise a single row of columns. The backdrop to all this is St. Peter’s Basilica one of the most visited Rome’s landmarks.

Bernini's Saint Peter's Square | Vatican City a Must See When in Rome

Bernini's Saint Peter's Square | Vatican City a Must See When in Rome

The construction of the Basilica of Saint Peter began under Pope Julius II in 1506 and was completed in 1612. The imposing Church was built on top of a former 4th century basilica erected by the Emperor Constantine on the spot where the legend says the apostle Peter was crucified and buried. The dome was designed by Michelangelo and the church, the largest church in the world, covers an area of 23,000 m² (5.7 acres).

St. Peter’s Basilica is a magnet for art lovers featuring Bernini’s majestic canopy in the nave, Maderno’s magnificent Chapel of the Confession, the Pieta by Michelangelo, the Clementine Chapel by della Porta and the stunning tomb of Clement XIII by Canova, just to name a few of the famous masterpieces on display.

But a Vatican tour would not be complete without a tour of the Vatican Museums and the breathtaking Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo.

Visitors will be impressed by the Egyptian and the Etruscan Museums, the Papal Apartments painted by Raphael and the Pinacoteca gallery that houses masterpieces by Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and more Raphael. A visit to Saint Angel’s Castle, built by Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD, is a great way to round off a tour of the Vatican City.

Saint Angel's Castle | A nice walk from the Vatican

Saint Angel's Castle | A nice walk from the Vatican

Vatican Travel Tips:

  • Vatican Museums Tickets can be purchased online at the Official Vatican Website
  • Vatican Dress Code For both ladies and men, knees and shoulders must be covered. No shorts of any kind are allowed
  • Wear comfy shoes. Sensible shoes are essential if you are to attempt the ascent of the Dome, as the 320 marble stairs after you emerge from the lift are very slippery
  • Days closed The Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, except the last Sunday of the month when entrance is free of charge. Expect large crowds then. St. Peter’s Basilica is also closed every Wednesday morning when the Papal Audience is scheduled
  • Papal Audience Papal Audience is held every Wednesday and the free of charge Papal Audience Tickets should be booked well in advance
  • Dear Visitor Please Note: Don’t set your expectations to high! It’s a public ceremony and you won’t be able to talk to His Holiness, take pictures of your kids with the Pope or handshake with the Holy Father
  • More Vatican Tips and info can be found at my previous Vatican post here

Pizzeria and Restaurants near the Vatican

Trattoria Micci | Euro 30 |

Pizzeria la Pratolina | Euro 25 |

Pizzeria Giacomelli | Euro 25 | Via Faà di Bruno 25 Prati |

Osteria dell’Angelo | Euro 25 | Via Giovanni Bettolo 24 Prati |

Osteria Centouno | Euro 28 |

Cafes, Pizza to Go and Bars near the Vatican

Mondo Arancina | Pizza and arancini rice balls |

Pizzarium | Excellent Pizza to go |

Caffè Antonini | Good sandwiches and excellent Cappuccino | Via Sabotino 25 | Prati |

Franchi | Delicious deli very close to the Vatican City | Take Away |

Piacere e Passione | Excellent coffeeshop with food |

Would you like to share your Italy travel tips with us? Please write us your comment and we will be happy to post it! Buon Viaggio!

Ciao from Rome:-)

Nancy Aiello


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© Copyright 2009, Nancy Aiello Tours

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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