Since 1929, when the Pope reached a deal with Mussolini, the Vatican has been an independent state, the world’s smallest with only 0.44 square kilometers. But within its walls are enough attractions to keep tourists busy for several days, so prioritizing your sightseeing is important. The two must-see sights are St. Peter’s Basilica and the […]

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St. Peter’s Basilica Share: The centerpiece of the Vatican, the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica was built between the 16th and 18th centuries, replacing earlier structures that began in 326 on what is thought to be where St. Peter was buried. Ironically, it was the selling of indulgences to finance this building in the 16th century […]

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Sistine Chapel Share: Built by Pope Sixtus IV in 1473-84, the Sistine Chapel is a rectangular hall that is the Pope’s domestic chapel, also used for services and special occasions. After the death of a Pope, the conclave to elect his successor is held here. The frescoes by Michelangelo and others covering the walls and […]

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Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery) xiquinhosilva Share: Even though it was robbed of many of its treasures by Napoleon, the Pinacoteca contains 16 rooms of priceless art from the Middle Ages to contemporary works. Arranged in chronological order, the pictures give an excellent survey of the development of Western painting. Medieval art includes Byzantine, Sienese, Umbrian, and Tuscan […]

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Raphael Rooms xiquinhosilva Share: These rooms, commissioned by the art-loving Pope Julius II and after him by Pope Leo X, are covered with a magnificent series of frescoes by Raphael. In re-discovering the traditions of historical painting, Raphael began an art tradition that was to be followed for centuries. In each of the scenes he uses […]

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Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square) Share: The grand Piazza San Pietro in front of St. Peter’s Basilica was laid out by Bernini between 1656 and 1667 to provide a setting where the faithful from all over the world could gather. It still serves that purpose admirably, and is filled to capacity each Easter Sunday and on […]

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Museo Pio Clementino David McSpadden Share: The Vatican Museums have the largest collection of ancient sculpture in the world, mainly found in Rome and the surrounding areas, most of it displayed in the systematic arrangement designed by Popes Clement XIV and Pius VI from 1769 to 1799. These galleries contain such a wealth of magnificent and […]

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Appartamento Borgia Herb Neufeld Share: Pope Alexander VI, a Borgia, had a private residence for himself and his family built inside the Vatican Palace, and commissioned Pinturicchio to decorate its walls and ceilings. Between 1492 and 1495, the painter and his assistants painted a series of scenes that combined Christian subjects with ancient and Renaissance humanist themes. The […]

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Cappella Niccolina FotoGuy 49057 Share: It’s easy to miss this little gem as you leave the Raphael Rooms and go through the Sala dei Chiaroscuro, where your attention will be on the wooden ceiling. But in the corner is a small doorway to Nicholas V’s Chapel, completely lined in frescoes by the Florentine monk of the early […]

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Etruscan Museum xiquinhosilva Share: The Etruscan Museum, founded by Pope Gregory XVI in the mid-19th century, has 18 rooms of artifacts that shed new light on the life of the Etruscans and their idea of the afterlife. Among the findings from the Etruscan graves that have been excavated throughout Tuscany are not just funerary items, but art works […]

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