The world’s smallest state fits snuggly in the centre of Rome, consisting of the St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Gardens. It is the home of the Pope and about 800 hundred other souls, mostly clergy and Swiss Guards. It is also home to one of the most famous art collections in the world, as well as an enviable library.
You don’t need to be religious to visit this little country, and neither do they require a visa. You simply cross the white line separating St. Peter’s Square from the rest of Rome and there you are. No border formalities, no luggage searches, no sour and dour looking custom officials.
There are however no hostels or hotels in Vatican City, so you can’t spend the night there, unless of course you are invited by the Pope. Neither is there much of a public transport system, everything is basically in walking distance.
For such a small country it, however, packs a punch, with the Sistine Chapel and its famous frescoes of Michelangelo, the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica, to just name a few highlights.
So, stow away your beach wear and take out your guidebook and explore this tiny territory, you will find out that one day is not enough!
Highlights from Vatican City
- Probably the most famous site in Vatican City is the Sistine Chapel with its famous frescoes
- Nearly as famous is St. Peter’s Basilica, with more frescoes, a magnificent dome, and much more
- You will start your tour of Vatican City on St. Peter’s Square, with the Egyptian Obelisk in its centre, if you come on a special occasion like Easter Sunday it will be packed and you will get to see the Pope himself deliver his blessings from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica
- The Raphael Rooms, as it implies, a room full of frescoes created by none other than Raphael himself
- The Vatican Museums with one of the largest collections of ancient sculptures in the world
- Appartamento Borgia, built as a private residence of Pope Alexander VI, a Borgia
- Gape at the exquisite collection of ancient books in the Vatican Library
- Arrange a tour around the Vatican Gardens for a little green respite among all those stuffy books
- Take a look at some of the lovely paintings in the Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery)
- Visit the Vatican Necropolis where many of the popes are buried, and possibly St. Peter himself
Hints and Tips for Vatican City
- Probably best to dress conservatively since this is the home of the Catholic Church.
- For some of the sights you need to arrange special tours, and they only allow a certain amount of visitors a day, so book in advance if you want to do something different (like visiting the gardens, or the necropolis)
- For a glimpse of the Pope, if he is in Rome there are Papal audiences every Wednesday at 10.30 in the morning, and on Sundays at noon he preaches from his balcony.