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Visiting Vatican: Uncovering Vast Treasures in the World's Smallest Sovereign State

Jul 13, 2008
It is quite easy to overlook the fact that within Rome's territory there exist another county, an independent state---the Vatican. As an entity, Vatican houses numerous works of art, architectural marvels and of course, the most influential figure in Roman Catholicism, the Pope.

Before anything else, each and everyone should take into account the significance of the Vatican and what it represents. It is only appropriate that reverence be given towards the place and its inhabitants. It does not matter whether you are a devotee or not, Catholic or otherwise, even if the place posts no religious value to you, you should at least exercise common courtesy.

St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro)

Once you enter the piazza, you will find yourself in an entirely different world. The fašade of the Basilica is already a humbling vision in itself. With the twelve apostles and Jesus positioned atop of the Basilica, one may feel a sense of security. It's as if the figures are watching over you, keeping you safe. But these are not the only statues around, there are actually 140 life-size saints placed atop of the pillared colonnade.

Speaking of colonnades, have you noticed its circular arrangement and how it envelops the piazza? It has been said that this symbolizes the outstretched arms of God embracing the world.

Now, dab in the center of the piazza is an obelisk, which was initially brought to Italy's capital by Emperor Caligula. It was only in 1586 that the structure found its way to Vatican. Two fountains are also present in the piazza, one built by Carlo Maderno and the other by Carlo Fontana.

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica Sancti Petri)

Using the word 'big' or 'large' or even 'massive' to describe the dimension of the Basilica would be an understatement. That is how colossal the edifice is. But before one can enter, strict dress code must be observed. Remember the courtesy mentioned in the earlier paragraph, well, that also applies here. For the women, shoulder skin need be covered, so is the midriff. Shorts, skirts, or any dress whose length falls short of the knee is not allowed. For men, again, shoulder skin must be covered and shorts are not allowed.

Going back, as you make your way through the Basilica, you will catch a glimpse of Michelangelo's Pieta, now enclosed in a glass due to a vandalism incident in the 1970's. Now, above the nave or the central area of the church, stands the canopy or the baldacchino made by Bernini. He's also the one responsible for the circular placement of the colonnade in the St. Peter's Square.

Then there is the dome designed by no less than Michelangelo. You may opt to climb the steps to reach the top of the dome or you may choose to take the elevator and save yourself almost a couple hundred steps, 171 to be exact. But that will not be enough to reach the top since you need another 320 steps along the steep and narrow corridors. If you can endure this, then the spectacular view that awaits you is but a fitting reward.

Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani)

The museum is enormous. Actually, it is a complex of museums reflecting Greek, Egyptian, Etruscan, Renaissance, and Roman works of art. And within the walls of this complex is the famous Sistine Chapel. This is probably the driving force that propels tourists to tolerate being pushed around and being asked to wait in queue for hours. To witness the opulence that is the Sistine Chapel is enough reason to be unwearied.

Just look at the ceiling, stare if you want. The view maybe neck breaking but it is worth the strain. A few of the highlights are as follows: The Creation of Adam, another is the Temptation and Fall of Adam and Eve, and then there is the Last Judgment.

One may forget the fact that Vatican is the smallest sovereign state, but it is certain that the grand experience will not be forgotten.
About the Author
This article was written by Benedict Yossarian. If you are interested in property in Italy Benedict recommends Homes and Villas Abroad
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