Located within Rome, Vatican City is the smallest independent state on the planet. The centerpiece of Vatican city is the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica which was built between 16th and 18th century. Until recently, St. Peter’s Basilica was the largest church in the world. Built over Saint Peter’s tomb (the apostle who was considered to be the first pope), basilica is the most important Christian site in the world, and has most amazing architectural spaces; it took the Renaissance masters over 120 years to build it.
Also known as the center of the Catholic world, St. Peter’s Basilica is the most visited ancient Basilica on the planet, and it’s adorned with striking artistic treasures. The first time you enter this incredible church, you’ll be absolutely awe struck at its’ enormity. The Holy Basilica houses lots of historical arts, along with tombs of Popes. You will also find the famed Michelangelo Pieta and the Bernini canopy which rises above the St. Peter’s ancient tomb.
Things To Do
- Visit the Vatican Museums – This is the part that will take most of your time since the Vatican Museums have the world’s largest private art collection including, Egyptian, Jewish, Greek, Christian, Roman, and Renaissance art. The Museums contain many masterpieces of sculptures, paintings, and works that were collected by past Popes. The main attraction of the Museums is the Michelangelo Sistine Chapel.
- Tip – When you and your family are visiting the Vatican, you should consider visiting St. Peter’s Basilica first, and the museums later, because the queues at the museums are much more crowded in the mornings.
- Michelangelo’s Pietà – When visiting Vatican city, you have to check out The Pieta. It’s located on your right as you walk into St. Peter’s Basilica. This was one of Michelangelo’s first works ever, and the only statue he ever signed. You can also spy on one of the Swiss guards at the Vatican City gates. They have different outfits, (basically, depending on their roles/duties), but they’re all dressed in costumes which were originally designed in the 1500’s.
- Vatican Grottoes – Extending beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Grottoes contains the tombs of past popes, and also numerous huge columns from the original 4th century basilica. The tomb of Pope John Paul II is in the Vatican Grottoes right below the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican Grottoes opens every day from 7.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (6.00 p.m. April – September).
- Seeing The Pope – If the Pope is in his Vatican residence, on Sundays at noon, he usually appears at the church window to bless and pray for the the crowd in Saint Peter’s Square.
- Tip – A dress code for Saint Peter’s is enforced. No shorts which are above the knees, and no bare shoulders. Kids can be allowed to wear shorts, but no bare shoulders.
Best Time of The Year To Visit
January and February are the best months to visit if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere and less crowds. To visit between May and October you’ll need a reservation. Saint Peter’s Basilica is open every single day from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm, (April to September) and from 7.00 am to 6.00 pm (October to March).