Vatican City is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. It’s the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population, and it serves as the spiritual and administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church.
Vatican City is not just the heart of the Catholic faith; it’s also a treasure trove of art and architecture. Here are some must-see attractions within Vatican City:
St. Peter’s Basilica: One of the largest churches in the world, it’s known for its breathtaking interior, impressive dome designed by Michelangelo, and the sacred relics it houses.
St. Peter’s Square: Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, this grand open space is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, featuring an obelisk, fountains, and stunning colonnades.
Sistine Chapel: Famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes, including the iconic “The Last Judgment.” It’s a world-renowned site and a must-see for art enthusiasts.
Vatican Museums: A vast complex of museums and galleries that house one of the most impressive art collections in the world, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Caravaggio.
Vatican Gardens: Occupying about half of Vatican City’s territory, these beautifully landscaped gardens are open to visitors through guided tours.
Apostolic Palace: The residence of the Pope, it’s an architectural marvel. While access is limited, visitors can see the Pope’s weekly address from St. Peter’s Square.
Vatican Apostolic Library: One of the oldest libraries in the world, it houses an invaluable collection of historical texts and manuscripts. Access is restricted, but some exhibitions are open to the public.
Vatican Necropolis and Grottoes: Beneath St. Peter’s Basilica lies a series of tombs and grottoes, including the believed tomb of Saint Peter himself.
Vatican Observatory: One of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world, it reflects the Church’s long-standing engagement with science and astronomy.
Swiss Guard: Don’t miss the opportunity to see the Swiss Guard, the small army responsible for the safety of the Pope. Their colorful Renaissance-era uniforms and solemn duty are a unique sight.
The Vatican Post Office: Known for its unique stamps and postal service, it’s a fun place to send postcards from, with a special Vatican stamp.
Cupola di San Pietro: The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica offers panoramic views of Rome, and visitors can climb or take an elevator part of the way up to experience the vista.
The Vatican Pharmacy: Although it may sound unusual, the Vatican Pharmacy is one of the best in the world and attracts people seeking rare and unique medicines.