Vatican City Travel Blog› entry 92 of 128 › view all entries
So I woke up crazy early in the morning to head over to the Vatican museum. First of all, the museum has weird hours (they close at like 2), and second of all, the line is always long to get in. I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see the museum, and if you know me at all, you know I didn't want to wait in line for it too long. I jumped on the subway and took it to the stop closest to the Vatican museum. NOTE: The entrance to the museum is on the OUTSIDE of Vatican City, on the wall on the north side of the country. (Yes, it is a separate country). I brought with me pants, because I knew these were needed to get into St.
As the museum opened and the line started moving, the group of Americans my age asked if I wanted to join them on their walk through the museum. I thought that was a great idea and did just that. I won't spend too much time talking about my walk through the museum, but there were a ton of artifacts from Roman history, as well as paintings, sculptures, and the architecture of the place alone was amazing. Also, the final stop in the museum is the Sistine Chapel, with Michelangelo's famous painted ceiling. Upon entering that room, it was literally packed with people just standing there staring at the ceiling.
The exit of the museum puts you right into Vatican City, with a great view of the massive collonades. We immediately got into one of the long lines for St. Peter's Basilica. This first line is a security check, all your belongings go through an x-ray machine like in the airport. After you clear that line, you get into another line. This line is a pants check, they check your dress code and make sure that it meets the requirements. If not, they throw you out on the street. (Actually, I have no idea what they do if you are not dressed appropriately).
Entering one of the large doors that even someone 10 stories tall could enter, we were all in awe of the size of the basilica. Immediately to the right we saw Michelangelo's Pieta. I'll talk more about that in a second. We could hear a loud American voice shouting something about a tour, so we checked that out.
The altar in St. Peter's is made of bronze, just the way the requestor wanted it to be. The designer at the time, however, was unable to find enough bronze in all of Rome to make it. So, the requestor (a french cardinal) told the designer to use the bronze in the Pantheon. So, the designer went and drilled numerous holes in the Pantheon, taking out the bronze he needed to finish his work. See my picture of the Pantheon in my Rome blog, or check it out in person!
We also learned the story of the Pieta.
After the tour, we got in line to go to the top of the dome. It cost some 6 euro to do so, but wow was it worth it. There are some 530 stairs to the top, but the view of all of Rome was even more breathtaking than the stairs. There can be no building in all of Rome that stands taller than the dome I was looking out from.
We walked around the basilica a little more before heading out. On the way out, we grabbed a photo of the Swiss Guard - the elite soldiers who protect the area and the Pope. They dress funny, but they can kill you in a heartbeat! We went down under the basilica and checked out the crypt where many Popes were laid to rest. This trip was not too long after Pope John Paul II had passed away, so we were able to see his final resting place.
Our next stop was out into St. Peter's square, which I am told will hold 500,000 people. In the square you can also see the numerous pillars and above those statues of many different saints. While hard to describe, there are even spots where you can stand and look out at the rows of pillars, creating the illusion that there is only one pillar in a row instead of many! I guess you'll have to see it for yourself.
After this, we headed out of the Vatican to check out some more things in Rome.