Monday, October 3, 2011

Rome Part 1: Vatican City

On Saturday we spent the day in Vatican City. Vatican City is the center of the Roman Catholic world and is where the pope and cardinals reside and direct the doctrines of the church. Vatican City is its own separate country and is the smallest in the world at just 0.2 square miles. It consists of a walled enclave within Rome and is also known as the Holy See. Here is where we visited St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museum, and the Sistine Chapel.

We marveled at the architecture and masterpieces by some of the world's greatest artists including Raphael, Bramante, Carlo Maderno, and Michelangelo. The piazza in front of the basilica, designed by Bernini, has two semicircles of colonnades with statues of saints surrounding the entrance. Two fountains are on either side of the Egyptian obelisk.
In Vatican City.
St. Peter's Basilica & the obelisk.
The basilica took over 150 years to complete and is magnificent! We have never seen something so ornate with so many intricate designs in something so large (at least since the last time Jon was here). No space was left untouched and no corner was left empty. My neck hurt from looking up so much!
Inside the Basilica.

We also climbed to the top of the dome and got a panoramic view of the city. The stairs wound up in a circular fashion as the angles of the walls of the dome kept getting smaller and smaller.

View from above.

Slanted walls.
The Vatican Museum was our next stop. Here, we drifted through the hundreds of statues, tapestries, and paintings it has to offer.

The museum.
A painting of Campania, where Naples is.

This one scares me.
The museum lets you out right into the Sistine Chapel. Here, we saw incredible works of art by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino, and others. Again, the detail of these famous paintings is incredible and each wall or area tells a different story. For example, the Southern wall is decorated with the stories of Moses and the Northern wall is decorated with the stories of Jesus. The Creation of Adam was a piece of art work that we looked for (and found) on the ceiling... it was almost like searching for Waldo! It is forbidden to take photographs inside the Sistine Chapel, but we did manage to squeeze this one shot in:

Shh.. don't tell!
Overall, we were obviously more interested in Vatican City for its architectural and aesthetic beauty rather than its religious symbolism, but we can see how people of the Catholic (& Christian) faith are captivated by its significance and power. No matter what your faith, it truly is a site to be seen.

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