Treasures of the Vatican

Treasures of the VaticanSistine chapel

Beginning in 1508, Michelangelo took his paintbrush to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, located in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. Michelangelo’s beautiful frescoes, considered to be among his finest achievements in painting, were first displayed to the public on November 1, 1512. Now, 500 years later, the ceiling is still awe-inspiring.

The chapel ceiling is just one of many wonders in Vatican City, the Papal state and center of Catholicism located inside the city of Rome. Vatican City has a perimeter of just than two miles around, but this tiny state – considered to be one of the world’s smallest countries – is packed with historical, artistic and architectural treasures.

Much of the Vatican is not open to tourists, but the buildings and museums that are open are spectacular. These include St. Peter’s Basilica: the magnificent dome is the tallest in the world. The vast interior of the church is exquisitely detailed and almost overwhelming in its scale and beauty.

Inside the Apostolic Palace, the Vatican Museums are filled with priceless paintings and sculptures. Some of the best-known are Raphael’s The Transfiguration; da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness; and Caravaggio’s The Entombment of Christ.  The Vatican’s collection of modern religious art is located in the Borgia Apartment, a beautifully restored series of rooms.

Many visitors also want to see Pope Benedict XVI, who often delivers a blessing from the window of his apartment above St. Peter’s Square at noon on Sundays. When in residence, he also holds Papal audiences on Wednesdays. You might catch sight of the Popemobile traveling across St. Peter’s Square at about 10 a.m., but you’ll need to secure a ticket to actually attend a Papal audience. Tickets can be obtained in advance from the Swiss Guards at their station in St. Peter’s Square.vatican1

Whether or not you plan to attend a Papal audience, when you visit the Vatican you must dress appropriately. The dress code for visitors specifies no bare shoulders, no shorts, and no skirts above the knee. This dress code is strictly enforced: visitors who don’t meet it are denied entrance and are directed to nearby shops where they can purchase appropriate clothing.

For more information about visiting Vatican City, as well as the city of Rome, talk with your travel professional.





Copyright © Margaret Owen, Cruise Pro