Our Easy Guide to Vatican CityDecember 29, 2016 10:00 am
Beat the holiday crowds and make your vacation a blessed one with our sightseeing guide to Vatican City.
If the idea of queuing to hours and elbowing through crowds of people doesn’t sound like too much fun… then you’re in luck! With the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Pass, you can skip the queues and head straight to the amazing landmarks in Vatican City. From the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica to the Vatican Museums and more, here’s our easy-to-follow guide to Vatican City.
Not only is the Sistine Chapel a grand place of worship, it also houses some of the world’s finest Renaissance art. Drawing its name from Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere, the man who oversaw its construction, the chapel is part of the Vatican Museums and is always bustling with tourists. Famous master artists such as Botticelli were commissioned to create works for the chapel, including Michelangelo whose detailed ceiling frescoes and The Last Judgment never fails to amaze all those who pass through its doors.
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm
Highlights: The ceiling and painting The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, Temptation of Christ and Trial of Moses by Botticelli
As one of the largest churches in the world, St Peter’s Basilica is an icon of the Vatican City and is easily spotted by its elaborate dome designed by Michelangelo. With enough room for 20,000 people, it was built to honour Saint Peter after his crucifixion in 324AD and his tomb still remains in the scavi (grottoes) beneath the basilica, alongside beloved popes. Aside from its impressive standing in the religious community, it also boasts an incredible view from its dome of the city well worth climbing the stairs for. Keep an eye out for the general audiences with the Pope on Wednesdays at 10am – you’ll need to sort out tickets in advance which can be found at the basilica, but they’re free.
Opening hours: 7am – 7pm daily, April – September; 7am – 6pm, October – March
Highlights: The view from Michelangelo’s dome, Vatican grottoes, general audiences with the Pope, Michelangelo’s Piéta
Situated beyond the Vatican City’s limits, the Basilica of St John Lateran is the oldest in Rome and also one of its most important as it houses the official papal throne. While the Pope technically spends most of his time in the Vatican City at St Peter’s Basilica, the cathedral is still worth the visit and impressive in its own right with Baroque statues of the apostles adorning its hall. It is also said to house a part of the table from Jesus’ last supper, as well as his blood. Venture across the road to the Holy Stairs, the steps of Pontius Pilate’s palace that Jesus descended following the trial that led to his crucifixion which can only be climbed on your knees.
Opening hours: 7am – 7pm, with the exception of winter months 7am – 6pm
Highlights: Papal tombs and throne, holy relics, Holy Stairs, apostle statues
Tackling the Vatican Museums is no small task with over twenty distinct sections and notoriously long lines, however it’s a must-visit for any traveller in the Vatican City. Started by Pope Julius II in the early 1500s with just a small collection of statues, it has since become a sprawling epicenter of art and religious iconography spanning centuries and countries. The Raphael Rooms, located at the entrance, herald the unbelievable mastery and beauty of the works to come and a photo of the iconic spiral staircase is mandatory.
Opening Hours: Ticket office, 9am – 4pm; museums, 9am – 6pm
Highlights: Raphael rooms, spiral staircase, Egyptian museum, Vatican Historical Museum