My First Impression of Europe: Vatican City

St Peter’s Square

St Peter’s Square

Vatican City is located in the central west neighborhood of Rome and Ripa hotel, where we stayed, is in Rione or Region Trastevere south west of Rome. By an easy and interesting bus ride through the west side of the town that took about 30 minutes including one transfer, we reached Vatican City where we spent all day totally absorbed in this most unique place.

An enclave within the city of Rome, at approximately 44 hectares (110 acres) and with a population of around 800, Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world by both population and area. As the Holy See of Roman Catholic Church, Vatican City however is anything but small. Within its walls there are St Peter’s Basilica, the second largest religious building in the world, and the Papal Palace or Apostolic Palace, where the Pope lives, governs the Vatican City state and leads the Catholic world. The Papal Palace includes the Papal Apartment, Vatican Government Palace, Vatican Library, Papal Garden, Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum.

The interior of St Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum are opulently and sumptuously decorated with shimmering marbles, shining gold and most imposing polychromes. Inside St Peter’s Basilica there are Bernini’s famous Baldacchino located over St Peter’s high altar and a great number of grandiloquent and beautiful monuments, tombs and statues filling the chapels and exedras that flank the nave. Walls and ceilings of Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum are covered by dazzling paintings and frescos including Michelangelo’s renowned Last Judgment and Creation of Adam and many of Raphael’s master pieces.

Vatican City emblematizes the staggering wealth and power Roman Catholic Church once possessed. An entity that has been around for two thousand years, its history is long and vicissitudinous. An outlawed institution during its first three centuries with no rights to hold and transfer property, Emperor Constantine’s legalizing it in 313 AD turned its fate around. The centuries following that, it asserted its spiritual supremacy, amassed large territory, obtained popular support for its Papacy; and finally in 7th century became a Papal State with sovereign political power ruling the Duchy of Rome, an area roughly equivalent to the present day Latium of Italy. Its territory had expanded to encompass most of central Italy before it was annexed into the Unified Kingdom of Italy in 1870. Following that, Pope Pius IX withdrew in protest into Vatican. More than half a century later, Pope Pius XI eventually renounced the bulk of Papal State’s territory and signed Lateran Treaty in1929 which brought Vatican City State into existence, forming the present day Papal State with Vatican City as sovereign territory of the Holy See.

St Peter’s Square

St Peter’s Square


St Peter’s square is a spectacular and delightful square. A climb up to the top of St Peter’s Basilica yielded this splendid view. St Peter’s Basilica facing south occupies the north end of the square, majestic colonnades curve round the west and east end, south end opens into the long vista of Avenue Via della Conciliazione running into a bridge over Tiber River, in the center is a sky thrusting obelisk, and mounted on top of the colonnades and buildings are rows of statues of various saints.

St Peter’s Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica


I posed in front of St Peter’s Basilica. The present basilica was built during the Renaissance years on the site where Saint Peter was buried in 64 AD. Many prestigious architects and artists were involved in its design, construction and decoration. The previous basilica on the same site was built by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, which survived for almost a thousand years before it collapsed before the 15th century.

Michelangelo’s Magnificent Pieta in St Peter’s Basilica

Michelangelo’s Magnificent Pieta in St Peter’s Basilica

Monument to Pope Alexander XII in St Peter’s Basilica

Monument to Pope Alexander XII in St Peter’s Basilica

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum


I posed inside the Vatican Museum. Have you noticed my transformation? It was a hot day, my friend and I were wearing mini skirts and sleeveless tops which we found out to be problematic while waiting in line to get inside St Peter’s Basilica. A couple of security guards moving up and down the line, not the Swiss Guards, stopped by us, and combining broken English and gesticulation, they informed us that we did not meet Vatican dress code for St Peter’s Basilica: no bare shoulders and knees when inside the basilica. To conform, my friend Cici and I bought sarong wraps and scarf, which we found at shops near by and fortunately not expensive, and ta-dah, a quick make over.

Dazzling decors at Vatican Museum

Dazzling decors at Vatican Museum

Stain Glass of Virgin Mary and Child

Stain Glass of Virgin Mary and Child

Stunning Frescos Rolling On and On

Stunning Frescos Rolling On and On

View of Rome beyond the Wall of St Peter’s Basilica

View of Rome beyond the Wall of St Peter’s Basilica

Vatican Government Palace in Papal Garden

Vatican Government Palace in Papal Garden

Swiss Guards

Pope’s Army: Swiss Guards


For more info, see: http://www.vatican.va/

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