The Vatican City is the smallest independent state in Europe, located in Rome, Italy, with a population of under 1,000. The Vatican City includes the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, Vatican gardens, St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square. The Vatican is located on the west bank of river Tevere and separated from the rest of Rome with a wall.
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica was constructed between 1506 and 1626. The dome was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti and the facade was done by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. St. Peter's Square is a magnificent square designed in the 17th century by Bernini. The open area is large enough to accommodate thousands of people.
St. Peter's Basilica houses numerous treasures, including Michaelangelo's Pieta, a bronze statue of St. Peter and numerous marble and gold statues throughout the basilica. Admission to the basilica is free, however visitors must wear proper clothing - no shorts and sleeveless shirts are allowed.
The Vatican Tourist Office, located in St. Peter's Square, offers guided tours of the basilica and the beautiful Vatican gardens. Visitors can take an elevator to the roof of St. Peter's Basilica for a spectacular view of the square below and the city of Rome, and climb to the top of Michaelangelo's dome (there is a visitor's fee for the gardens and the dome). Other places to see in the Vatican City include Vatican Grottos, the Necropolis and the Museum of Vatican Treasures.
St. Peter's Basilica is open every day from 7 am to 7 pm April to September, and from 7 am to 6 pm October to March. The dome is open from 8 am to 6 pm April to September, and from 7 am to 5 pm October to March.
The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is famous because of its beautiful frescoes, especially the ceiling and the Last Judgement painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The Sistine Chapel was built in the second half of the 15th century. It is named after Pope Sixtus IV, who was Pope at that time. Michelangelo painted the ceiling between 1508 and 1512 and the Last Judgement over the altar between 1535 and 1541.
The Sistine Chapel is located within the Vatican Museums in Rome, Italy. The restorations of the chapel have recently been completed. The Vatican Museums also house numerous paintings, tapestries, Raphael Rooms, the Egyptian Museum and the Etruscan Museum.
The Vatican Museums
You will probably not want to miss the Vatican Museums which house some of the most important works of art in the world. Everybody has heard of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo and other superb artists in the 16th century. Then there are Raphael's Rooms, four rooms decorated by the famous painter Raphael between 1509 and 1520.
Other collections include the Gallery of Tapestries, the Egyptian Museum, the Gregorian Museum of Etruscan Art, the Vase Collection, the Gallery of the Maps and the Vatican Picture Gallery. In fact, the museum is so vast that you could spend a whole day inside and only see a small part of it.
If you are short on time, you should know that the Vatican Museums are laid out in a shape of a rectangle with the Sistine Chapel and Raphael's Rooms located at the farthest end from the entrance to the Vatican Museums. Since the museum is always quite crowded, it can take one hour just to walk from the entrance to the Sistine Chapel, even if you do not stop to admire the works of art along the way.
The Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, except the last Sunday of the month. The museums are open from 8.45 a.m. to 4.45 p.m. from April to October, and from 8.45 a.m. to 1.45 p.m. from November to March. Be sure to confirm the opening times before you go since schedules in Italy change frequently.
Admission to the Vatican Museums, which includes the Sistine Chapel, costs Euro 8. Every last Sunday of the month, admission to the Vatican Museums is free. For reservations and information call +39-06-69884947.
Address:Musei Vaticani e Cappella Sistina
Viale Vaticano - 00165
00120 Citta del Vaticano