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6 Sites To Explore In The Vatican City

6 Sites To Explore In The Vatican City | St. Peter’s Basilica. PHOTO: Crossroads Initiative

The Vatican City is a city-state enclaved in Rome, Italy. It is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and home to the Pope. With an area of 44 hectares (110 acres) and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population. However, Vatican City attracts a whopping six million people annually.

In 1984, the Vatican was added by UNESCO to the List of World Heritage Sites making it the only state that is a UNESCO site.

Here are some of the most visited sites in Vatican City:



St. Peter’s Basilica

The centrepiece of the Vatican and one of the best places to visit, the construction of the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica began on 18 April, 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626. The modern building replaced earlier structures that began in 326 AD on what is believed to be where St. Peter was buried. The work of famous artists begins before you enter the church: in the portico are an equestrian statue of Constantine by Bernini and fragments of a mosaic by Giotto above the main doorway. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age.

Saint Peter’s Square. PHOTO: JAG Travel

St. Peter’s Square

Saint Peter’s Square is the heart of this small state. This colossal piazza was designed by famous Italian architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1656 to 1667. It was built around the Egyptian obelisk in the centre of the square, which was placed there in 1586. It can hold as many as 400,000 people and is where the Pope holds his papal audiences.

Sistine Chapel. PHOTO: LivItaly Tours

Sistine Chapel

Originally known as the Cappella Magna (‘Great Chapel’), the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. Since that time, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today, it is the site of the papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescos that decorate the interior, most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo. The fame of Michelangelo’s paintings has drawn multitudes of visitors to the chapel ever since they were revealed five hundred years ago.

Vatican Museums. PHOTO: Italy Guide


The Vatican Museums

They display works from the immense collection amassed by Popes’ throughout the centuries including several of the most renowned Roman sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. The Vatican Museums is one of the largest museums in the world. It ranks as the 4th most visited art museum in the world. 

Vatican Necropolis. PHOTO: Rai News

Vatican Necropolis

The Vatican Necropolis lies under the Vatican City, at depths varying between 5–12 metres below Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican Library. PHOTO: CBS News

Vatican Library

The value of its contents makes the Vatican Library the richest in the world, with 7,000 incunabula (printed before 1501), 25,000 medieval hand-written books, and 80,000 manuscripts that have been collected since the library’s founding in 1450. And that’s just the old books; it doesn’t count all the books it contains that were printed since the end of the 15th century.

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