Vatican City

Vatican. A country inside the city – the smallest country in the world containing one of the biggest churches ever built.Vatican. A country inside the city – the smallest country in the world containing one of the biggest churches ever built.

The impressive Renaissance dome (Cupola) designed by Michelangelo towers over the city of Rome and is visible from far. You can climb it to get a unique experience of quite a claustrophobic walk around the tilted outline of the dome to reach panoramic view over the area. The staircase gets quite tight in places, so don’t go there if you have a problem with walls touching your body. Once you start climbing, you have to reach the top to get down. It is probably the best viewpoint in entire Rome, as it seemed to me to be the highest building in the city.

The dome can be accessed as part of the visit to St.Peter’s Basilica, which is the main attraction here. This enormous church makes a big impression not only with volume but also with rich decorations and designer’s vision. Everything is very well thought to give a more cozy feeling to the interior despite its size. Apparently the statues closer to the ceiling are bigger than the ones below so that with the perspective they all seem to be the same size and therefore appear closer to the viewer. Quite clever, isn’t it?

Entrance to the Basilica is for free, but you need to pay to get to the Cupola. There are two options:

  1. You can climb all the way on foot (about 500 steps) – 5 EUR
  2. Take the lift to the base of the dome (internal balcony) and climb the rest on foot (about 300 steps) – 7 EUR

Unless you really cannot do it on foot, I wouldn’t recommend option 2, as it’s more expensive, you have to wait for the lift (lines) and you will most likely end up climbing the big part of it anyway. But it’s up to you 🙂

The lines to get inside the Basilica are big, but go reasonably fast (comparing to other attractions), as there are security scanning machines (yes, you need to get yourself checked just like at the airport). However, as usually, it’s better to go earlier to avoid crowds. Remember the dress code – even if considered a famous site, it’s still a church, so no shorts or bare shoulders are accepted.

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are another sites worth a few hours visit. You will find a great deal of ancient Roman sculptures, Egyptian collection as well as more modern pieces of art. The tour finishes with the biggest attraction which is the Sistine Chapel and its extraordinary ceiling and altar painted by Michelangelo. No pictures are allowed and if you don’t want to annoy guards and be shouted at, simply admire the art and find some pictures on the net 😉  (they will likely be better quality than the hidden cell phone shots anyway).

The queue for the entrance is veeeeery long (even longer than to Colosseo). If you don’t want to extend your visit by standing several hours in a line, book the ticket in advance to skip it. The pre-sale fee is extra 4EUR per ticket, but it feels like money well spent when you start walking along the queue towards the entry!

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