Marvel at the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel, venture inside majestic St. Paul’s and perhaps even see the pope himself in this tiny European state.
Completely encircled by Rome, the walled Vatican City offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Catholic Church and into Italian culture. Watch the pope address his followers, wander around the vast St. Peter’s Square and examine precious artworks and rare artifacts in the fascinating Vatican Museums.
Enter the Vatican City and encounter St. Peter’s Square, a vast plaza with a large obelisk at its center and 284 columns around its edge. Two fountains sit on either side on the square, while statues depicting various Catholic saints sit along the balustrades above the columns.
The jewel of Vatican City is the spectacular St. Peter’s Basilica. Construction began on the church in 1506 though it wasn’t completed until 1626. The interior contains numerous monuments to past saints, as well as artwork by famous artists such as Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Michelangelo.
Gaze up at the dome on top of St. Peter’s from the ground below, or take an elevator to the roof for stunning views across Rome. Join a tour to explore the Vatican Gardens, which are supposed to serve as a place of peace and meditation for the pope.
Don’t miss the incredible collections of the Vatican Museums. The most famous work here is, of course, the ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. No recording or photography is allowed, so put your phone down and focus all your attention on the gorgeous colors and intricate details of Michelangelo’s famous fresco.
Upon entering Vatican City, find a tourist office on the left-hand side, which offers plenty of information to help you make the most of your visit. Book a tour of the gardens or buy a map to take a self-guided tour of the museums. Vatican City also has its own postal system and you can send postcards, complete with Vatican City postal stamps, directly from the papal state. These make a unique souvenir of your visit to this fascinating “city within a city.”