Vatican City (Citta del Vaticano), also known as with the Holy See (Santa Sede), is the latest and only current Papal state in existence and the temporal seat of the Pope, head of the worldwide Catholic Church. Situated within the city of Rome in Italy, the Vatican is the world’s smallest state.
Via della Conciliazione, San Pietro Roma” La città eterna”
The Vatican sits on a low hill between 19 m and 75 m above sea level. With a boundary only 3.2 km around, the enclosed land area is smaller than some shopping malls. However the buildings are far more historic and architecturally interesting. When talking about terrain, most of the country’s area is the Vatican gardens.
Although 1,000 people live within Vatican City, many dignitaries, priests, nuns, guards, and 3,000 lay workers live outside the Vatican. Officially, there are about 800 citizens making it the smallest nation in demographic size on the globe. The Vatican even fields a soccer team composed of the Swiss Guard who hold dual citizenship
To get in, you will first go through a metal detector (after all, this is an important building). Don’t be put off if there is a long line in front of the detectors; the whole thing moves quickly. The line is usually shorter in the morning and during mid week.
Baldacchino and Dome, St. Peter’s Basilica
Note: A strict dress code is enforced (as in many other houses of worship), so have shoulders covered, wear trousers or a not-too-short dress, and take your hats off (which is the custom in churches in Europe. You might be required to check bags at the entrance. Photos are allowed to be taken inside, but not with a flash. The lack of light will probably cause your pictures not to turn out very well, so you may want to buy a few postcards to keep as souvenirs.
The centre of the Catholic world, this magnificent basilica with its Michelangelo designed dome has an awe-inspiring interior. This place is huge, but everything is in such proportion that the scale escapes you.
Aside from going inside, you can take an elevator up to the roof and then make a long climb up 323 steps to the top of the dome for a spectacular view. It costs €7 for the elevator (€5 to climb the stairs) and allow an hour to go up and down. During the climb and before reaching the very top, you will find yourself standing on the inside of the dome, looking down into the Basilica itself. Be warned that there are a lot of stairs so it is not for the faint at heart (literally or figuratively) nor the claustrophobic as the very last section of the ascent is through a little more than shoulder-width spiral staircase. Instead of leaving out the doors you came in, go down into the crypt to see the tomb of Pope John Paul II, the crypt leaves out the front.
The basilica is open daily April to September 9AM-7PM and October to March 9AM-6PM; closed Wednesday mornings for papal audiences.
Daily mass at 8:30AM, 10AM, 11AM, 12PM, & 5PM Monday to Saturday, and Sundays & holidays at 8:30AM, 10:30AM, 11:30AM, 12:10AM, 1PM, 4PM, & 5:30PM.
The Pietà (Italian pronunciation: [pjeˈta]), one of the world’s most popular statues, is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ. When Christ and the Virgin are surrounded by other figures from the New Testament, the subject is strictly called a Lamentation in English, although Pietà is often used for this as well, and is the normal term in Italian.
Swiss Guards Corps (Corpo della Guardia Svizzera) Swiss Papal Guards are posted at entrances to the Vatican City to provide security and protect the Pope. They wear very colourful clothing, similar to the uniforms worn by Renaissance era soldiers; winter palette of clothing differs from summer palette. In contrast to popular belief, the design of the Papal Guard uniforms was modeled after the colors of the Medici family (4 of whom were popes), not from Michaelangelo. The Pontifical Swiss Guards is also the smallest and oldest standing army in the world founded in 1506 by the warrior pope Julius II (the same pope who kick started the construction of this ‘new’ basilica and making Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel). The origins of the Swiss guards, however, go much further. The popes, as well as a lot of European rulers, regularly imported Swiss mercenaries since the 1400s. Swiss mercenaries were a major export of Switzerland before they started making watches.