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Here under Vatican, you will find travel information as well as general information about Vatican, the city-state of Popes.

VaticanTo see in the Vatican:

St. Peter's Square - The most famous square in the world, designed by Bernini. This huge square and vestibule for St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, is undoubtedly the most famous in the world! The work began in 1656, with Bernini in charge and under Pope Alexander VII. It was completed in 1667. It has an almost circular shape (in fact an ellipse) and is lined on both sides by two semicircular colonnades, which form remarkably sober and solemn structures.

An obelisk stands in the centre of the square. This granite monolith, cut in the 1st century B.C., Bishop at Heliopolis, was brought back to Rome on Caligula's orders. He had it placed in his circus, to the left of the Basilica. Sixtus V had it erected in the middle of the square by Domenico Fontana, who required the assistance of some 800 men and 75 horses to achieve the task. There is a relic from the Holy Cross at the top of the obelisk. The two fountains are attributed to Bernini and Carlo Maderno. The two disks inserted into the ground mark the focus of the square's elliptical shape: from these two locations, the colonnades seem to consist of a single row of columns. This is a perspective tour de force, much in vogue with Bernini! A majestic stairway leads from the square to the Basilica. Of course, the square gives its full scope when the Pope makes an appearance and it is packed with crowds. Apart from great religious feast days, the Pope appears at his balcony for the Sunday Angelus (midday).

St. Peter's Basilica - The largest Christian sanctuary. The first Vatican basilica was built in 324 by Constantine on the site of St. Peter's tomb. After numerous misadventures, it started to take on its present shape under Pope Julius II. From 1547 to 1666, ten great architects successively worked on the edifice: Bramante, Sangallo, Michelangelo, Giacomo Della Porta, Domenico Fontana, Maderno and finally, Bernini, who gave it its Baroque style. The interior is extremely vast, housing 450 statues, 500 columns and 50 altars awaiting 60,000 faithful. In this huge structure, unsuitable for meditation as it is always overrun by noisy crowds, you'll only need to spot where crowds have formed to catch a glimpse of works of art such as, Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Piet´┐Ż, sculpted in 1499-1500 at the age of 25, and continually machine-gunned by camera flashes; St. Peter's chair (in the apse), an extraordinary work by Bernini, designed to house the remains of a bishop's throne attributed to the first of all popes. It is a great, sculpted bronze throne, supported by the four doctors of the church and crowned by a glor. You'll probably end up treading on a few toes before admiring some funerary monuments. Queue up to kiss the foot of St. Peter's statue , then go and admire the astonishing 29 m-high canopy. Look up to see the dome (evn climb up to it for a wonderful view of Rome).

Sistine ChapelSistine Chapel - All roads lead to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. You'll probably be jostled by Vatican museum crowds, doing their utmost to follow the official circuit, and told to be quiet in all the tones and languages of the world, while waiting a good fifteen minutes in a narrow staircase, before gaining access to the Sistine Chapel. There, you must try hard to ignore the compact crowd and exasperating, regular sh! let out by museum attendants, also telling people to respect the religious nature of the premises. But, you made it there. So, stay anchored to your spot, in order to be able to take a good look at Michelangelo's painted vault. Then, you can decide if you like it or not. Either you find this vast, moving composition of the creation of the world, produced by an inspired brush, absolutely wonderful, or you can't stand these frescoes, find that the colours are too garish, condemn the restorers (called excessive) for having made the patina disappear, and you don't regret having to leave the chapel. But, only a genius could have triggered such passion. It would certainly be a shame to miss the side walls: Perugino, Pinturrichio, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pietro di Cosimo, among others, took part in decorating the chapel and are unfortunately overshadowed by the vault!

Vatican Museums - Fabulous collections that are only fleetingly seen. Let's get things straight: there are wonderful works of art, collected by popes, exhibited in Vatican palace galleries, but you won't be able to stop and see them properly, as you'll be caught in a compact crowd that will not enable you to achieve such an eccentricity. The flow will enable you to catch a glimpse of beautiful Egyptian collections, a sculpture collection, some Greek and Etruscan or Roman antiques (Laocoon from the Golden House). You'll sweep through majestic galleries (including the Gallery of Maps), then take a steam bath in the Raphael Rooms (if the crowd doesn't take shortcuts), or guess at what you might have seen in the Grisaille Room. You'll be hurled across the Nicholas V Chapel and Borgia apartments, and finally, wait a good fifteen minutes in a narrow staircase before gaining access to the Sistine Chapel. There, after having just managed to look up, you'll probably be jostled out into a few end galleries and projected, in an extreme state of exhaustion (and acute misanthropy) out of the building. It seems strange that the superb art gallery is the most peaceful part of the museums. Perhaps because it is not on the official circuit. It contains numerous masterpieces, that you can take your time to look at. The Raphael Room is a marvelous example of the painter's work. You can also see Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and many others there.

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