If you’re heading to Rome it goes without saying that the Vatican City should play a key part in your itinerary. Headquarters of the Catholic Church and home to the Pope (as well as the incredible Vatican Museum) this wondrous city state in the heart of Rome will be sure to amaze. |
The Vatican Museum
The centrepiece of your trip will likely be the Vatican Museum, one of Rome’s most iconic attractions. So extensive and opulent is the building and its surroundings that it is estimated to be worth approximately €15 billion in total, and houses around nine miles of art. Therefore if you’re set on seeing everything, make sure you devote around four hours in your itinerary or book a Rome tour to take in this masterpiece. Here are some of the top highlights to look out for.
Giuseppe Momo’s Spiral Staircase
Designed in 1832, this iconic staircase greets you the moment you enter the museum. As probably one of the most photographed staircases in the world, you will likely recognise the two iron engraved stairways as they stretch high up into the building, with Giuseppe Momo’s design coincidentally forming the double helix reminiscent of the symbol for DNA that would emerge in subsequent years.
The Raphael Rooms
These four magnificent spaces showcase some of the finest works of the Renaissance, including a selection of fine frescoes from Michelangelo and Raphael himself. Overlooking the Belvedere courtyard, the Raphael Rooms link the museum to the equally impressive Papal Palace. On the west side of the courtyard you’ll also be able to spot the Gallery of Maps, home to a fantastic collection of cartographical paintings that are the product of three years of hard work by Italian priest and geographer Ignazio Danti.
The Sistine Chapel
Perhaps one of the most famous attractions in the Vatican, no Rome tour is complete without taking in the wonders of the Sistine Chapel. Consecrated in the late 1400s, the site is home to the Last Judgement, one of Michelangelo’s most iconic works, as well as beautiful murals by Botticelli.
The Papal Throne
This symbolic artefact comes from the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop in Rome, the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. Its elaborate red marble arm rests, intricately engraved with lion forms will fill you with a sense of royalty simply by gazing at it from afar.
The Gregorian Egyptian Museum
While ancient Egypt may not be a topic that you expect to learn more about on your Rome tour, the extensive Gregorian Egyptian Museum houses one of the finest collections on the subject and is a must for any enthusiast of the era of pharaohs and Cleopatra. Founded in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI, the museum encompasses nine rooms of sculptures, statues, clay figurines and bronze objects brought from ancient Egypt via Rome and Villa Adriana in Tivoli during the imperial age.
Variety in the Vatican
If you’re looking to experience the Vatican in a unique fashion and to come away with stories to share, make sure that book one of our tours of the Vatican Museum and this papal enclave. From magnificent sculptures to architectural masterpieces, this historic city will be sure to not disappoint.
Rose Magers is an Australian-born Italophile and the founder of ArtViva. With an international reputation for excellence and creativity, ArtViva are at the forefront of escorted day tours in Italy. Rose has indulged her own passion for history and the arts by designing an innovative range of exceptional small group Rome tour experiences, from guided visits to view the masterpieces of the great art galleries to unforgettable Italian cookery classes.
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