Visiting the Vatican: Tips & Photos

We took the kids to visit the Vatican and the Vatican Museum. The Vatican as you probably know is the walled city inside Rome where the Pope lives. Here are some tips for visiting and photos from our visit to the Vatican.

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Tips for visiting the Vatican

If there’s one tip for visiting the Vatican it to buy tickets in advance. The best place to do buy the tickets is on the official website.

The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are closed every Sunday. The exception is the last Sunday of every month when they are open and entry is free.

Papal audience is held every Wednesday. It is a ticketed event where the Pope addresses the crowd in St. Peter’s Square with a speech and blessings. 

There is so much to see when visiting the Vatican, don’t miss Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica and, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Dress appropriately – sleeveless clothing, low-cut dresses, very short skirts, shorts, and even hats are considered inappropriate.

Book a guided tour! It is the best way to get a better understanding of one of the world’s most beautiful and culturally significant collection of art.

Disclaimer – This was a few years ago, days when a camera was allowed inside the Sistine chapel.

What to see at the Vatican

Here are some art and things to look for at the Vatican

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Encompassing Saint Peter’s Square are two colonnades that were designed by Bernini to symbolize the embracing maternal arms of the Catholic Church. The colonnades are comprised of four rows of columns, each column with 1.5 meters in diameter and 20 meters high.

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Adorning the rooftop of the colonnades are 140 statues of various saints consisting of former popes, martyrs, evangelists and other Christian figures. The statues were created by Bernini and his students over a span of some 40 years.

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On the ground, between the obelisk and each fountain, are marble discs marking the geometric “foci” of the elliptical shaped square of St. Peter’s. When standing on these discs, the columns of the colonnades appear perfectly aligned so that only the closest row of columns can be seen – indicating once again the architectural brilliance of Bernini.

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The Sistine Chapel is the most known chapel in the entire Vatican City. The chapel is well known for its architecture and the numerous decorations it bears. This chapel was designed and built by architects Michelangelo, Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Pinturicchio, among others. Here are Michelangelo’s famous ceiling and Last Judgment painting.

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The ceiling frescoes were Michelangelo’s first major commissioned work yet it took him just four years to complete. The 8,600 square foot ceiling is divided into nine panels, each depicting a Biblically historical scene. The most famous scene is the Creation of Adam, showing God reaching out to touch the fingertip of Adam. 

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Our kids enjoyed the Papal Enclaves and the Sistine Chapel but D got bored after a few hours in Museum and didn’t want to go inside St. Peter’s Basilica. I had seen been inside during previous trips. So D and I hung out outside people watching and architecture gazing, while Daddy and daughter went inside.  Sometimes when you travel with little ones you have to be flexible with the schedule allowing for naps, downtime, and playtime.

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