Thursday, 25 April 2013

Not to be missed sights of the Vatican in Rome

Since 1929 the Vatican City has been is own sovereign state with the pope at its head. The Vatican City is the world's smallest nation at108.7 acres, and has a population of about 820. Vatican City is separated from Rome itself by ninth-century walls, and has it own post office, bank, currency, judicial system, radio station, shops, a daily newspaper and an army of Swiss Guards.
1. Vatican Museums - the museums are housed in palaces originally built for Renaissance Popes. There are 13 museums and 14 private apartments and spaces of Renaissance Popes including the Sistine Chapel.
2. The Vatican Gardens - open for guided tours, make up a third of the Vatican’s territory.
3. Raphael Rooms – In 1508 Pope Julius II hired the relatively unknown Raphael to fresco his Belvedere palace private apartment. Raphael’s frescos representing Truth, Good and Beauty made him an instant rival to Michelangelo, then painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
4. The Sistine Chapel – was built as a private chapel for the popes in 1473. In 1508, Michelangelo started work on the ceiling of the chapel. The work is made up of 9 main panels, which chart the Creation of the World and the Fall of Man. Though the ceiling is the most famous, the walls are not to be overlooked. They were frescoed by some of the most famous artist of the 15th the 16th centuries with the culmination of the great alter wall in 1541 by Michelangelo.
5. Dome of St Peter - Through the use of large proportions the eye is “fooled” into thinking the interior is smaller then it is. Michelangelo’s dome is 448 ft high and the mosaics of the four Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, who are holding up the “pillars of the church”, are huge with their quills alone over 5.7 m (19 ft) high.
6. Michelangelo’s Pieta – the Pieta was created in 1499 when Michelangelo was only 25. The Virgin Mary embraces her son’s lifeless body carved from immaculate white marble and is the only sculpture to bare his signature. It has been protected by shatterproof glass since 1972 when it was attacked by a man wielding a hammer.
7. Necropolis/ St Peters Tomb – Enter through the Excavations Office on the south side of the basilica. In the necropolis there are Roman graves as well as the likely burial spot of St Peter, a climate-controlled space where visitors as allowed about 30 seconds each. Reserve well ahead at In the grottoes below the main alter is the final resting places of 18 popes including Pope John Paul II
8. the Holy Door – Every quarter century the Pope ritually open the Holy Door to signal a papal Jubilee Year and closes it at years end.
9. Piazza San Pietro – laid out by Bernini between 1656 and 1667 the two sweeping semicircles of four-tiered colonnade show the beginnings of the overwhelming scale on which St Peter’s was built.
10. The Obelisk - taken from Egypt the obelisk was erected in Rome in A.D. 37
11. Via della Conciliazion- the main road into the Vatican City is lined with shops selling “kitsch” holographic images of the Popes, and Saints, religious statuettes with rolling eyes and oversized crosses.
12. Castel Sant’Angelo - The castle began in 139AD as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrain. In medieval times it became a citadel and prison. During times of unrest it provided a place of safety for the Popes. A secret corridor links it with the Vatican Palace providing for an escape route and the castle was equipped with comfortable apartments.

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