The Vatican is one of the smallest states in the world with only 0.44 square kilometers. The Vatican was declared an independent state in 1929 when the Pope reached a deal with Mussolini, an Italian dictator. Yes, this is the smallest state in the world but in fact, there are plenty of wonderful places to visit. The Vatican is like an open museum; you will never have enough time to visit all of these amazing buildings having a long story. I wish to share with you 10 of them.
1. St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica – also called “The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter” – was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world. Catholic tradition holds that the basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter. The entire interior of St. Peter’s is lavishly decorated with marble, reliefs, architectural sculpture, and gilding.
2. Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the pope. 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.
Pinacoteca is An Art Gallery and was inaugurated on 27 October 1932. The Pinacoteca contains 16 rooms of priceless art from the Middle Ages to contemporary works. The art gallery was housed in the Borgia Apartment until Pope Pius XI. The museum takes its name from two popes; Clement XIV, who established the museum, and Pius VI, the pope who brought the museum to completion.
4. Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square)
St. Peter’s Square is a large plaza located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. At the center of the square there is an ancient Egyptian obelisk, erected at the current site in 1586. The square and the basilica are named after Saint Peter, an apostle of Jesus considered by Catholics to be the first Pope.
5. Vatican Museum
The Vatican Museums are the public art and sculpture museums in the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection amassed by the Catholic Church and the papacy throughout the centuries including several of the most renowned Roman sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world.
6. Vatican Necropolis
The Vatican necropolis was originally a burial ground built on the southern slope of the Vatican Hill, adjacent to the Circus of Caligula. Vatican Necropolis lies under the Vatican City, at depths varying between 5–12 meters below Saint Peter’s Basilica. A limited number of tourists are allowed to visit this place every day.
7. Vatican Garden
The Vatican Gardens are located in the west of the territory and owned by the Pope, There are some buildings, such as Vatican Radio and the Governor’s Palace, within these gardens. This place is opened to the public in 2014 thanks to Pope Francis and to visit the gardens you must be accompanied by the tour guide.
8. Etruscan Museum
The Etruscan Museum was founded by Pope Gregory XVI in the mid-19th century, and the museum’s most famous single treasure is the terracotta funerary monument the almost life-size Bride and Groom (the so-called Sarcofago degli Sposi, or Sarcophagus of the Spouses), reclining as if they were at a dinner party.
9. Vatican Library
The Vatican library is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical texts. It has 75,000 codices from throughout history, as well as 1.1 million printed books, which include some 8,500 incunabula.
10. Chiaramonti Museum
This museum was founded in the early 19th century by Pope Pius VII, whose surname before his election as pope was Chiaramonti. The museum consists of a large arched gallery in which are exhibited several statues, sarcophagi, and friezes. The walls of each side of the gallery have a row of large niches in which stand marble statues.