Considering that Italy’s Vatican City is the world’s smallest state, it sure packs a punch. Teaming with ancient architecture, sprawling museums, and picture-perfect gardens, Vatican City deserves a full day out of your Rome visit, at the very least.
If you’re short on time, you may want to focus on some of the city-state’s highlights. If you need some advice, here are four of my favourite surprising sights of Italy’s Vatican City.
1. Soak up the Sights of the Sistine Chapel
Of course, no trip to Vatican City is complete without a visit to the world-famous Sistine Chapel.
Found within the Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel is a must-see monument and only when you step into the majestic building will you discover why.
One of the most renowned works of art within Western Civilization, on entry, become captivated by the elaborate detail, eye-popping colours, and mesmerizing shapes of the chapel’s ceiling. Meticulously painted by Renaissance mastermind Michelangelo, the high ceiling tells the tale of the Christian Story, and you can spend ages staring up in wonder. Just be careful not to damage your neck from all that craning.
It comes as no surprise that the Sistine Chapel gets busy, so beat the crowds and buy an early access ticket online. Head straight into the chapel before any of the tours arrive.
2. Roam the Renaissance Art Collection
One of the main draws of visiting Vatican City is the rich renaissance art collection, and there’s sure a lot to see. The Vatican Museums are nothing short of enormous, featuring 54 different galleries that display more than a whopping 70,000 artworks.
As visitors, we’re lucky to have the chance to admire over 20,000 of these artworks. Make sure you leave plenty of time to roam the grand halls, absorbing the extravagant paintings that date back to the 1500s.
Need more than one day? Grab an OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card for 72-hour access to over 30 Rome and Vatican museums, art galleries and monuments. Maybe by day three, you’ll have studied each of the 20,000 pieces up close.
3. Amble the Picture-Perfect Vatican Gardens
Once you’ve soaked up the architecture and culture of Vatican City and the museums, it’s time to escape the swarms by taking a relaxing amble through the verdant Vatican Gardens. Home to over 100 ornate fountains, feel at complete ease as you potter around the colourful flowers, landscaped lawns, and neatly trimmed hedges.
You’ll hardly believe that you’ve found this oasis of tranquillity and greenery slap bang in the middle of thriving Rome.
The gardens are open to visitors with a reservation, and you can team your trip with the rest of Vatican City with a handy Vatican garden, museums, and Sistine Chapel bulk tour ticket.
4. Venture Into the Vatican Necropolis
Too much sun? Retreat from the heat into the eerie depths of the Vatican Necropolis that lies beneath St Peter’s Basilica.
Excavated during the 1940s, this creepy former cemetery isn’t for the faint-hearted. Found five to twelve meters deep, if you’re claustrophobic, then it may be best to stick to the glitzy grounds of St Peter’s Basilica above.
Wander the carefully preserved museum quietly, marvelling at the ancient paintings, artefacts, and sculptures that are home in the underground cavern. Rumour has it, some of the bones of St Peter remain there to this day.
Are you intrigued by the macabre? Continue your fix by embarking on this Rome Crypts, Bones and Catacombs Underground Tour for more spooky sights.
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