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Visiting Vatican city Basilica and Sistine Chapel

The Vatican is an interesting state in a state. Lets explore the Vatican city in Rome today with a walkaround tour, visiting the various Vatican palace grounds, museums cathedrals (the St. Peter’s Basilica) as well as a look around in the renowned Sistine Chapel.

St. Peter's Basilica main walk way and roof murals at the Vatican city
St. Peter’s Basilica main walkway and roof murals at the Vatican city.

The world’s smallest city-state

Interestingly, the Vatican city is the smallest independent city-state in the world by both area and population. It has an area of 49 hectares and a population of just over 800. Also, it is home to the Pope and a trove of iconic art and architecture, such as Museums, particularly the iconic Sistine Chapel. Also, the state itself geographical sits in Rome, Italy. It is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

Vatican City grounds

Entering the Vatican city state grounds is via a rather heavy looking fortification wall in the City of Rome. It surrounds the entire city (or country) within. It looks like the walls of a palace nor are there any international boundary markers or signs. I guess a big surrounding wall helps keeps everything in, and out.

Vatican city main entrance gate into a terminal complex
Vatican city main entrance gate into a terminal complex.

Also, interestingly, you do not need a passport to enter the Vatican. You be brisked through airport-style security screening through a modern looking “terminal” complex.

Entry complex
Complex statues
Entry tickets

Moving on, you follow through a series of escalators up to high ground before exiting into a vast open field courtyard. Called the Cortile del Belvedere, this open courtyard is also known by its other name such as the Belvedere Courtyard or Belvedere Court.

The Cortile del Belvedere (Belvedere Courtyard or Belvedere Court) Open lawn in vatican city
The Cortile del Belvedere (Belvedere Courtyard or Belvedere Court) Open lawn.

Check out a panorama of this vast open interior courtyard.

360 degree Panorama of the Belvedere Courtyard, Vatican city

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Additionally, the open lawn is flanked by several buildings and sculptures. Check out the views.Interesting musing here includes a 1st-century Roman bronze Pigna (pinecone) sculpture taking center stage in the courtyard.

Roman bronze Pigna (pinecone) sculpture vatican city
Roman bronze Pigna (pinecone) sculpture.

Other notable sculptures here includes the Sphere Within Sphere sculpture by Pomodoro in the Cortile della Pigna. It has a rather quirky yet modern touch in a rather traditional environment. An interesting touch.

Sphere Within Sphere sculpture by Pomodoro in the Cortile della Pigna
Sphere Within Sphere sculpture by Pomodoro in the Cortile della Pigna.

In addition, Its Vatican Museums house ancient Roman sculptures in a number of sculpture museums. Notable sculptures includes the Vatican’s first marble sculpture, Laocoön and His Sons purchased in the 16th century for the installation in 1506.

Vatican city Internal museum walkways
Vatican city Internal museum walkways, with impressive detailed ceilings.

Since then, the museum internal collection had grown to 4 installations with a historical museum to boot. This includes museum walkways lined with impressive detailed roof murals.

Museum audio piece
Inside the buildings museum

Also, you can see your visit to the Vatican as a learning as well as a spiritual journey. It is open to people of all faiths. Museums spots of interests includes the Sala della Biga as well as Renaissance frescoes in the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling masterpiece.

Open courtyard

Beautiful Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is the site of both religious and functionary papal activity. Notably, it is the location where a new Pope is selected. Moreover, the chapel was originally known as the Cappella Magna or Great Chapel, taking its name from Pope Sixtus IV, where it was constructed from 1473 to 1481. Also, the chapel is one in the Apostolic Palace within the city and was consecrated on 15 August 1483.

Interior of the Sistine Chapel with the roof painting, it was consecrated on 15 August 1483
Interior of the Sistine Chapel with the roof painting. The chapel was consecrated on 15 August 1483.

Notably, it is the official residence of the pope, in Vatican City. The most iconic item in the chapel is the ceiling artwork, a Renaissance masterpiece. Also, the fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescoes that decorate the interior, most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment, both by Michelangelo.

A Michelangelo Renaissance masterpiece

Moreover, Michelangelo the artist was commissioned to paint the chapel’s ceiling, under the patronage of Pope Julius II from 1508 and 1512. Also, the ceiling’s artwork is 40 by 13 meters large. Also, the chapel’s ceiling artistic detail is regarded as one of the major artistic accomplishments of human civilization, given it’s historical influence to Western art. Additionally, Michelangelo also painted the nine stories from the Book of Genesis and Last Judgment over the altar. When completed, the ceiling has more than three hundred figures. It depicts creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the Great Flood.

Roof details
Chapel exterior

Furthermore, in a different political climate, after the Sack of Rome, he returned and, between 1535 and 1541 to paint The Last Judgment for Popes Clement VII and Paul III. The Last Judgement artwork filled the entire vertical wall behind the altar of the Chapel. Additionally, the Sistine Chapel had undergone a major restoration of the ceiling for almost 10 years from 1984, before opening up the public on 1994. There, the restorers studied Michelangelo painting techniques to best restore the artwork faded by time.

Beautiful St. Peter’s Basilica

Wrapping up your Vatican city trip is the St. Peter’s Basilica. It is a massive church built in the Renaissance style. It appears as a 3-floored facade with small balconies, until you see how large the doors are relative to a person standing beside it.

Vatican city St. Peter's Basilica exterior
St. Peter’s Basilica exterior, it is huge, in relative to the people by its entrance.

Also, you can spend your time exploring the various artworks and sculptures within. Furthermore, on the exterior of the Basilica (Maderno’s façade), you can find statues of Saint Peter (left) and Saint Paul (right) flanking the Basilica entrance stairs. A massive golden dome tops the St. Peter’s Basilica. Check out the vast exterior space of the Basilica.

360 degree Panorama of St. Peter’s square

st peters sq far pana-w

Furthermore, this vast open outdoor square able to house up to 80,000 people sits on the exterior of the Basilica. Also, widely regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines, the St. Peter’s Basilica is also able to accommodate tens of thousands of people indoor and the courtyard outdoors at St. Peter’s Square in massive events.

Vatican city St. Peter's Basilica interior
St. Peter’s Basilica vast cavernous interior.

Moreover, St. Peter’s Basilica is vast and much larger on the inside than it appears on the outside. It is the Basilica interior where you get to see the sheer size of the building. Also, the building was consecrated on November 1626 and is the world’s largest church by interior volume.

360 degree Pan Interior of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican city

st peters interior vatican panorama-w

Furthermore, the building was brought to completion by designers Giacomo della Porta and Fontana. Also, sitting at the center of St. Peter’s Baldachin (baldacchino). It is a bronze canopy sculpture standing under 30 meters tall. It was built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1623–1634.

Vatican city St. Peter's Basilica with the Bernini's baldacchino at the center
Vatican city St. Peter’s Basilica with the Bernini’s baldacchino at the center.

Additionally, on history, the church was dedicated to St. Peter’s and built in the renaissance style typical for the era of architecture then. Notably, the building masterpiece is one of the most renowned work of renaissance architecture.

360 degree Panorama Center of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican city

st peters interior vatican panorama-w2

Moreover, the interiors are free to roam, with various statues and altars dedicated to the various who served through the life of the Basilica and in the Vatican. It is a holy place indeed.

Bernini’s Baldacchino
Basilica Altars

Wrapping up, you are good for the Basilica for about an hours tops and you are free to roam about at your own pace. Also, the interior does gets pretty packed at times, but the large space here pretty much eases up the congestion within.

That's all for the vatican folks
That’s all for the vatican folks!

All in all, Vatican city is a great place to visit for history and culture itself. An enclave within the city of Rome. You are good for an entire day in there, especially if you were to take your time in the museum galleries. Definitely an interesting place of visit with you are in Rome, Italy.


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