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The Vatican City State has been the world’s second smallest sovereign independent state since February 11, 1929.  It is located across from the Tiber River and is in Rome.   It has been the residence of the popes only since 1377.  The Vatican State covers 108 acres and is surrounded by walls.   Inside the walls are St. Peter’s Basilica,  St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Gardens & the Vatican Grottoes.  

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The entrance to the Vatican.   Make sure you go with a guide or have a “Skip-the-Line ticket.

View of St. Peter's

Once you get through security, you enter into the grounds.  There is a dress code to go into St. Peters.

The world’s largest collection of art consists of 1400 rooms, chapels, galleries with 70,000 works of which 20,000 are on display.    To see some of the collections in the Vatican Museums go to:  

Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museums were founded in the early 16th century by Pope Julius II (1443-1513).     There are 54 galleries within the museum and they  display the massive collection of art collected by the Popes through the centuries.

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River god (Arno) dates from the time of Emperor Hadrian


One of the many beautiful Vatican Museums ceilings.
 Photo by Steve Meyers


The Carriage Pavilion has this Grand Gala Berlin constructed in Rome in 1826 by Leo XII.   Early version of the Popemobile. The Carriage Pavilion  opened on 19 April 1973 by Pope Paul VI. Pope Francis drive a blue Ford Focus!
  Photo by Steve Meyers.

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The Sarcophagus of Constantina once held the body of Constantina, the daughter of Constantine who died in 354.  In the Greek Cross Hall.


Finally you arrive at the Sistine Chapel.

Laocoon and his Sons401

Laocooon And His Sons is the sculpture that started it all. This sculpture was excavated on January 14, 1506 in a vineyard in Rome and Pope Julius II purchased it.   He then put it on display in the Vatican and the Vatican Museums were born.   It depicts the Trojan priest Laocoon and his two sons being attacked by giant serpents.

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Every where you look you see beautiful sculptures, frescoes,  paintings, mosiacs, furniture and tapestries.   The art is on the ceilings, the walls, and on the floors.


Round Hall in the Pope Clementino Museum.  The floor is a collection of mosaics from the 3rd century AD.   The basin used to be located in one of the large public spaces in Imperial Rome.  

Hall of Muses400 Pio Clementino Museum

The sculpture over the door in the Hall of the Muses.  When you go from gallery to gallery, most galleries will have the name of the pope associated with the gallery you will be entering.  

The Sistine Chapel was built between 1475 and 1483 during the reign of Pope Sixtus IV.   He also ordered that the walls  of the chapel have paintings of the Old and New Testaments and they were painted by Perugino, Botticello and some other Renaissance painters.  Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling in 1508 and Michelangelo completed it in 1512.   The Chapel is where new popes are chosen and photographs in the chapel are forbidden.   On the grounds outside of the Vatican Museums are posters of the ceiling and you can take pictures of the posters.  The photos below were all taken from the posters.

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The Creation of Adam is the most famous of all the paintings on the ceiling.

The Last Judgment (Michelangelo)

Photo of The Last Judgment which is a fresco done by Michelangelo and is behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel. 

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Photo of the poster showing the Sistine Chapel and the paintings on either side of the walls that depict the Old and New Testament.

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One of the many frescoes on the walls of the Sistine Chapel taken from the poster outside the museum.

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 This is a closeup of  Mary and Christ painted by Michelangelo between 1536 - 1541 which is in the upper center of The Last Judgment fresco to the left above.

St. Peter’s Basilica is an Italian Renaissance church that sits over the tomb of St. Peter.   The facade of the basilica was created by Carlo Moderno, an Italian architect (1556 - 1629).  The dome was designed by Michelangelo.


The basilica of St. Peter’s from St. Peter’s Square was built from 1506 - 1626.   The blue dome was the creation of Michelangelo. The facade was created by Carlos Maderno.
Photo by David Meny

Bernini's colonnade & Obelisk400

The Egyptian obelisk was originally  erected at Heliopolis, Egypt around 2500 BC where it was built by Pharaoh Mencares in 1835 BC. It was brought to Rome by Emperor Caligula in 37AD.  The Egyptian obelisk was erected in St. Peter’s Square  in 1586.


The Papal Swiss Guard is a small force that protects the safety of the Pope.   They were established in 1506 under Pope Julius II. 
Photo by Steve Meyers.

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The altar marks the place of Saint Peter’s tomb and above it is Bernini’s Baldachin.  Bernini was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and he began the work in 1623 and he finished it in 1634.   


Another view of the altar and Bernini’s Balachin.


Beautiful sculptures and paintings adorn the walls.  Above and right.


Many of the former Popes are entombed in St. Peter’s.


St. Peter’s Square taken from atop St. Peter’s dome showing the square and the colonnades built by Bernini between 1656 and 1667 during the reign of Pope Alexander VII (1665-1667).   Photo by David Meny.

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The Papal Apartments are the Apostolic Palace behind Bernini’s colonnades. The Popes have always lived in one of the apartments but Pope Francis declined to live here and instead lives in a guesthouse on the grounds.  Pope Benedict is still living at the Vatican.
Photo by David Meny.

Inside St Peter's 400

The  Maderno nave.


Over the altar rises Michelangelo’s dome and the cupola is decorated with mosaics.  Photo by David Meny.

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One of the beautiful domes in St. Peter’s.  Photo by David Meny.

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Michelangelo’s Pieta.


Photos by Christine Meny, David & Shelly Meny & Steve Meyers.

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