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Visit to the Vatican: Tips and what to see




The Vatican (official site) is an incredible destination; the spiritual head-quarters of Catholic Christians the world over. 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), and with a population of around 900, it is the smallest country in the world by both area and population. At the same time, there is a distinction between the Holy See (central authority of the Roman Catholic Church) that has existed for a long time in history, and Vatican City, which is a city-state that came into existence in 1929 (for more details of the distinction, refer to Wikipedia (click here)). Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the Bishop of Rome — the Pope.

A great site with information on timings for many places inside the Vatican, dress code, mass timings, climbing the cupola, grottoes, restrooms, St. Peter’s Tomb, seeing the pope, Sistine Chapel, Tours (link)

Hours: St. Peter’s Basilica is open daily, Apr-Sep 7:00-19:00;
Oct-Mar 7:00-18:00
Treasury Museum: 9:00 – 18:15 (Apr – Sep) 9:00 – 17:15 p.m. (Oct – Mar)
Grottoes: 7:00-18:00 (Apr – Sep) 7:00-17:00 (Oct – Mar)
Cupola: 8:00 – 18:00 (Apr – Sep) 8:00 – 16:45 (Oct – Mar)
Scavi Office: weekdays 9:00 – 17:00

How to Reach the Vatican City, including locations of museums, bus routes, piazza, Peter Basilica

Map of Vatican City (placement within Rome) on Google Maps (may need to zoom in)


View Larger Map

Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel – (Vatican website)
Hours – Closed on many holidays, check the Vatican Website
Mar-Oct 8:45-15:20, Exit 16:45 Saturdays 8:45 – 12:20 Exit 13:45
Nov-Feb 8:45 – 12:20, Exit 13:45
Closed Sundays, except the last Sunday of the month which is free.
Regular Price – 12 Euros

Virtual Tour of St. Paul’s Basilica Outside the Walls available at this link (click here)

Virtual tours of the Vatican Museums at this link (click here)

Information on St. Peter’s Basilica (Wikipedia – including the history of the construction of the Church) and Square in the Vatican City (link), (Photos from EWTN Catholic Network)

For people visiting the Vatican, it is always a challenge for them to decide what to visit. Here are some links to articles that describe what to visit:

Article in the Telegraph about how to visit the museums (click here)

Few visitors to the Vatican Museums come away unmoved by what they see – especially in the Sistine Chapel. The sheer scale of Michelangelo’s ambition and achievement (he painted more than 600 figures in all), the coherence of the compositions and the consistency of the artistic quality is heart-stopping. The problem is how to enjoy it. Throughout most of the year, the sheer number of people cramming into the chapel, and especially into the Raphael Rooms, undermines the whole experience. It’s like trying to read metaphysical poetry in a rugby scrum.
Top 20:
Raphael paintings and tapestries, Aldo-Brandini Wedding Fresco, Horses heads, The Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgment, Fra Angelico: Chapel of Nicholas V (for more, including descriptions, visit the actual article)

Some useful tips at this forum post at fodors.com (link)

The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums and furthest from the entrance. There is an admission fee. For an additional fee, you can prebook a timed entry to avoid waiting in line. Anecdotal evidence suggests that lines are short or non-existent after about 1 pm.
http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/index.html
There is no fee for entry to St. Peter’s Basilica, but there is a security line, which generally moves quite fast.

Tips from ehow.com (link)

Select the day you want to visit Vatican City. Check the official Vatican website for events you want to attend or avoid, including the Pope’s weekly public appearance in St. Peter’s Square.

Private visit to the Vatican Gardens and Sistine Chapel (link)

Detailed description of visit to the Vatican City with photos (link)

Finally, we moved into the Sistine chapel where no speaking, photography or videography is allowed. It is difficult to comprehend the scope of the Michelangelo ceiling from individual images – they can never recreate the feeling of looking up at this work in its whole. This is also the room in which the Pope is elected by the college of cardinals and seems to resonate with history and untold secrets. It was far less crowded in the chapel from the last time I visited, and we were able to take seats along the benches that line the perimeter. From here we could comfortably take in the various panels without the sort of reverse vertigo that you get from walking in slow circles with your head tilted back. Certainly the panel showing God creating Adam is captivating, but so are many of the less famous images that lead to this centre piece.

Ticket Office online of the Vatican Museums (for skipping the lines, for getting guided tours, for school groups, and for pilgrimages) (link)

A pilgrim’s report (link)

As Christian and Catholic, I will never conceive a visit to Rome without visiting the Vatican City, the spiritual centre of the Christendom, with the famous Saint Peter’s Basilica and the other three Basilicas located outside the Holy See walls: Saint John in Lateran, Saint Mary Major and Saint Paul outside the Walls, the impressive Vatican Museums, the beautiful Gardens and the fantastic St. Peter’s Square.

Vatican City, Italy – Sistenth Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica

2 parts of a virtual tour of the Vatican (an excerpt from a National Geographic documentary titled “Inside the Vatican”).

A virtual tour of the Vatican (Part 1)




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