Happy Thursday Everyone!
If you have been following my blog, you know today’s travel post is focused on my tour of Vatican City. Vatican City is unique in that it’s an area within the city of Rome but it’s recognized as an independent state.
Vatican City is the hub where you can get a chance to see some of the most famous paintings and sculptures in the world…..or to me, I can finally get a chance to see The Creation of Adam and Pieta!!!!
First stop, the terrace to see a beautiful view of the Sistine Chapel.
In the courtyard we saw the Sphere within a Sphere. The sphere is part of a series of bronze sculptures that can be found in numerous well known locations such a the Headquarters of the UN in New York, Sculpture Garden in Washington DC, and other notable places.
Our tour guide showing us a close of the fractured orb inside another fractured orb, and rotating the outer orb. Don’t the inside gears remind you of a clock?
Can you see a mix of influence in the sculptures? I see Roman, Greek and Egyptian..
Another shot of the sphere before we leave the courtyard…
Off to the hall of tapestries. I am amazed at how well preserved these tapestries are, all depicting Jesus Christ or prominent moments in the christian faith.
My favourite tapestry (if I had to chose one). I fell in love with the colours and the depth of emotion you can see from Mary and all surrounding Jesus with adoration and love.
Off to the hall of maps and I can spot my hubs with his GoPro completely lost at how detailed the maps are adoring the walls.
Do you recognize this map?
The School of Athens. I remember seeing this picture when I was in Junior high and I was captivated with Socrates and Plato’s philosophy and work. It was through them and this painting that I learned about Leonardo da Vinci (it is his face on Plato’s body) and Michelangelo (on Heraclitus body). Raphael did this painting after taking a sneak peak at Michelangelos’ work in the Sistine Chapel. He fell in love with Michelangelo’s work and recognized him as the Master of the Renaissance art and hence paid homage to him by placing his face on the body of Heraclitus.
I solemnly swear I am up to no good. Snuck in a picture of the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Felt like such a rebel!
Being ushered out fast (and hence I couldn’t set my camera settings right) so an Archbishop can make his way to the Sistine Chapel for some important prayers. I don’t know about you, but I would love to just lie down and see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for hours!
Off for a lunch break before we make our way to the Saint Peter’s Basilica!
One of the four holy doors in the Vatican City. This door, and four others, are usually shut and are not opened unless it’s a Jubilee year. To touch all four holy doors is a blessing and a step to being cleansed of your sins. Going through the door is equivalent to touching all four doors. I snuck in and touched this door before heading inside the Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Just a normal day inside Saint Peter’s Basilica
Blouse (similar) | Trousers | Chambray | Bag |
This was me pretty much at all the Basilicas. Lost in the art work and detail, until I saw….
I have been in love with this sculpture (in addition to The Thinker and David) since forever. To see it in person was just amazing. The photograph above doesn’t do it justice as to how Michelangelo tries to capture a young Mary (instead of Mary in her 50’s) holding Jesus post crucifixion. I personally wish I could have touched it but after some crazy nut job tried breaking a piece of it off, it’s protected behind bullet proof glass >_<
Bronze statue of Saint Peter holding the keys to heaven. Visitors lined up to touch the feet of Saint Peter?
Outside the Sistine Chapel. Could the weather be any more gorgeous?!
I don’t know about you, but I am ready to see more Vatican properties outside of the Vatican City!
First stop… Papal Basilica of Saint Paul
One of the many beautiful sculptures of Saint Paul. Saint Paul is depicted with a sword, versus Saint Peter with the keys to Heaven.
Supposedly the remains of Saint Paul are underneath all of that concrete
This door tells about the crucifixion of Saint Paul. He refused to be crucified right side up as he did not feel he was worthy to be crucified the same way as Jesus was.
Second of four Holy Doors down. I don’t know about you but I am loving this spiritual journey that is cleansing me of all of my sins at the same time….
Inside Papal Basilica of Saint Paul. If you look closely, the room is bordered with all the Popes in the Christian faith.
The current Pope, Francis…and in case you are wondering, the first Pope was…
Next stop, off to see Papal Arcbasilica of Saint John Lateran. I’ll warn you, by this time my feet were aching and I was so grateful that our tour came with a tour bus to take us around Rome to see all the four Basilica’s and get a chance to be blessed by touching the Holy Doors.
Third Holy door…
I can’t recall whose tomb this is but this is one of the few basilica’s I remember that houses many tombs of past Popes. Did you know that all the money that is thrown on this tomb is donated to Red Cross? Pretty amazing! I cannot recall what the number was exactly, but I remember being very impressed that it was a great deal and how much good can come from this donation that comes from its people.
Deep inside…you will notice a common theme with all the basilicas in Italy. Jesus is always in the centre surrounded by his Apostles, and the top two favs are always Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
Taking a bit of a break before we head off to…
THE HOLY STAIRS!
I had no idea this existed! Basically encased in wooden steps are the marble steps that Christ stepped on during his Passion. The marble stairs are visible through the small gaps between the wooden risers. To get these steps and have them stay in Rome, Saint Helena (smart woman if you ask me) placed some soil from Jerusalem on this land, sanctifying it that the land was a part of Jerusalem and not Roma. I had no idea this existed and to see it and up close was just ….’Oh WOW!’
Last stop, Basilica of Saint Mary Major
This Basilica is sometimes called Our Lady of the Snows because the foundation of the basilica was scraped into snow. Taking a step back, a Roman nobleman and his wife couldn’t have any kids so they promised to donate a portion of their wealth and property in her honour. During the Roman summer, snow fell (go figure!) on a hill. That same hill is where this basilica lies. To commemorate this story, they drop rose petals on the day the snow fell (I believe it was sometime in early August).
Last of the Holy DoorsGorgeous stained glass inside
Inside the dome where they drop the rose petals…Can you just imagine the artists working here to capture various points in Christian history?
I will let you comment on this one…
Back at the hotel!
This was our last stop and all I can say it felt good to get back to the hotel! My feet were tired and I was grateful that I wore sensible shoes through out the day. I was very tempted to pack kitten heels or something with height but being on my feet from 7:30 am to around 5:20 pm, my flats were perfect!!!
Tips/Lessons learned from my tour of the Vatican City
- We booked this one day tour online. It was a bit pricey but well worth it!!! The Vatican Museum gets an average of 15-20 million visitors a year. The lineup for the museum starts around 7:15AM. Going with this tour group we skipped the line completely and went directly inside. There are numerous tour groups that skips the line but this is one of the few that takes you directly inside.
- There are two parts to this tour:
- Part one is visiting the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Our tour guide works in the Vatican Museum and was knowledgeable about everything in the museum and knew the security staff. We got access to a few rooms that are generally closed off the public.
- Part two, you get to visit all the Vatican properties outside of the Vatican city. Now to visit ALL the basilicas is free, but the cost is the bus and tour guide that takes you from one church to the next. With the three main churches spread out, and getting yourself personally cleansed of all of your sins…I was sold and would do it again!
- There aren’t a lot of good places to eat in the Vatican city. We went from one restaurant to another and to be honest, we were not very happy with the food. In the end, we just went to a small shop about two blocks from the museum and grabbed a greasy slice or two before meeting up with the group.
- Don’t drink! Seriously, this tour is long and bathrooms are hard to find (especially a clean one). I stayed away from liquids as much as possible just so I didn’t have to hunt for the bathroom.
- Dress Code (yup there is a dress code in the Vatican city and they are strict about it).
- Ladies: Cover your pretty shoulders and knees. If you forget and expose either one or both, don’t worry. Outside each of these venues you will find folks selling beautiful pashmina shawls in every colour of the rainbow to cover yourself and match with your outfit.
- Men: Long pants and at least short sleeves.
- We had dinner at a fancy upscale restaurant at the end of the night and to be honest we were not impressed….not when I told them I am allergic to certain items and they offered it to us. Lets just say 2 hours after eating my upper body, especially my face, broke out in bumps. I am so glad I packed bennadryl just in case, so sorry…no restaurant recommendations 🙁
- After all the sight seeing we did, I was grateful to have one day to myself in Rome before we went off to Pisa. Unlike my time in Paris where I picked up a Celine and Chanel, I didn’t get anything because the goods were 10% or more expensive in Rome versus the USA. Before you drop any money when you are on vacation, know the price of what you want. If it’s more expensive, it’s not worth it just to say…’I got this in Rome’.
Hope you enjoyed the read and stay tuned for my next post on my visit to Pisa. I hope you like this post. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of my spiritual day in Vatican City.