Hey fellow adventurers! Welcome back! There is so much history in Vatican City! In 1984, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added Vatican City as a World Heritage Site. The whole country! Even though it’s quite a small space, there’s a lot to see! Today I’ll talk about the most famous landmarks at Vatican Square (I’m not focusing on artistic aspects).
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is considered by many to be one of the most renowned works of Renaissance art, and one of the holiest Catholic shrines. With a length of 730 feet (220 meters), width of 500 feet (150 meters), and height of 448.1 feet (136.6 meters), it’s the largest church in the world. It is a popular destination for pilgrimages, with anywhere from 15,000 to 80,000 people visiting each year to pray here. It is also the burial site of St. Peter and the first Pope. Aesthetically, a lot of people’s favorite part of the basilica is the dome.
St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Square is a large plaza located in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was built by Bernini between 1656 and 1667. Bernini planned on building more but after Alexander VII’s death, construction was halted, and never resumed. During the summer, they hold the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square. During a Papal Audience, the Pope will typically talk for an hour and a half to two hours.
Sistine Chapel is a chapel within the Apostolic Palace (where the Pope lives). It is the site of the Papal Conclave (the process of choosing a new Pope). It holds the artwork of many talented artists, but is most known for The Last Judgement by Michelangelo.
With both religious and art museums to choose from (and little else in general), museums are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vatican City. Some of the most valuable Renaissance art pieces and classical sculptures reside here. The museums own around 70,000 works but only 20,000 are on display to the public. And when you buy a museum ticket, proceeds go to the Catholic Church.
This one is a less popular tourist attraction but I still feel it deserved some attention. The gardens are very peaceful and beautiful. Nicholas III moved to the Vatican and decided to plant an orchard, a lawn and a garden to protect his residence. But it has grown and changed considerably since then.
This next one is not a tourist attraction but I wanted to include it… well, because I wanted to. It was a short enough post that I could. The Vatican Library is the library of the Holy See. Formally established in 1475 (though unofficially it was around for longer), the Vatican Library is one of the oldest libraries in the world. It has about 1.1 million printed books, including 75,000 codices (plural form of codex) throughout history and 8,500 incunabula (text that was printed before 1501). The library is primarily a research library for history, law, philosophy, science and theology, and therefore is only used by those who prove they need to use the library for means of research in one of the fields previously mentioned. The Vatican Secret Archives are separate from the library, and contains another 150,000 items.
Well that’s all for today’s post! I hope you have an amazing weekend! And as always, until our next adventure!