Vatican and the Vatican Museums

Staying in Rome and not visiting Vatican is like not trying a pizza or ice-cream when in Italy. Since the planning phase we knew we’d see the Vatican Museums and take a stroll along the streets, drawing crowds during Catholic ceremonies. A must-see!

In the morning we set out towards Trastevere and reach huge St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) around 1 p.m. ambling across Ponte Sant’Angelo, next to the Castle Sant’Angelo, and then along wide Via della Conciliazione. From this side Vatican welcomes visitors from the entire world with its arms wide open.

Sant’Angelo Bridge in Rome (Ponte Sant’Angelo)

Most Św. Anioła, Ponte Sant'Angelo, Rzym
Most Św. Anioła, Ponte Sant'Angelo, Rzym

Castle Sant’Angelo

o wonder the castle earned wings in its name. It’s here that an angle appeared to Pope Gregory the Great. The fortress served many functions: it was used as a bridgehead, a citadel, a prison, and a shelter for popes.

Towards St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro)

And here it is – St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro), designed by Bernini, appears right in front of us. It’s still a mystery for us how 1.5 mln people were able to gather here for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Framed by the colonnades, four columns deep, the square holds two fountains, an obelisk, a renowned image of the Holy Mother, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Plac Świętego Piotra, Watykan

The Vatican Museums

We started our guided tour in the dinner time (around 2 p.m.). It was a great moment to hide behind priceless works of art because a storm was raging outside the museum walls. Thunders set pace to our tour. We wish it had been slower, because all chambers were gorgeous. Their splendour overwhelmed us to such an extent that we sometimes observed ceilings or walls instead of admiring museum pieces. Nevertheless, constant neck training was a great warm-up before entering the Sistine Chapel which dome did not only magnetized visitors, but urged them to admire it.

Muzea Watykańskie
Muzea Watykańskie
Muzea Watykańskie
Muzea Watykańskie

The Vatican Museums – tickets

If you don’t fancy sunbathing while waiting in the line to buy tickets, just look around St. Peter’s Square. You’ll be approached by many self-proclaimed guides with an offer of a lifetime. Although a guided tour with the Vatican’s chamber whizz is more expensive, the comfort of saving some time is often more important than a price. Surprisingly, with this guide you can skip the line and enter St. Peter’s Basilica out of turn. If you don’t want to spend too much, you can buy tickets online at the Vatican Museums’ website and reduce waiting time. Or traditionally go to the ticket office (tariffs: approx. EUR 16/full, EUR 8/reduced). For more information visit  Vatican.va.

St. Peter’s Basilica

From the Vatican Museums we went directly to St. Peter’s Basilica. Its size is beyond our understanding. Everything here is the biggest, the best, enjoys unique history or is sacred. To learn more than regular guidebooks can tell, we secretly joined one of the guided tours.

Bazylika Świętego Piotra, Watykan

You don’t have to pay to enter the Basilica; however, it doesn’t make visiting any easier. There is usually a long winding line of tourists before the main entrance, a true nightmare in dog days. Deciding for a guided tour in the Vatican Museums, you can also enter St. Peter’s Basilica out of turn through the side entrance.

We didn’t climb up the St. Peter’s Basilica’s dome; something that still we regret. You can climb there (EUR 6) or take an elevator (EUR 8).

We took a stroll along streets encountering the ramparts protecting Vatican, Swiss Guards, local inhabitants, and bunches of tourists.

Requirements for Swiss Guards

Citizens of Switzerland
Catholics
Of good repute
Attended military schools in Switzerland
19-30 years old
At least 174 cm tall
Single males

Vatican – trivia

What to expect of the state with non-existent illiteracy? Certainly not one of the highest annual wine consumption rates. The California Wine Institute is of different opinion. According to the research conducted in 2014, Vatican has the highest per capita wine consumption in the world, annually 74 litres per resident.

Seceda and Val di Funes – photography spots in the Dolomites