Rome is a city that you can go to over and over again, and experience something new each time. Not only is there so much history, but each neighborhood has its own charm and uniqueness. My first time in Rome was a quick weekend away, during which we visited mostly historical and cultural landmarks in Vatican City. I think we explored some of the best sites to see in Vatican City overall! During subsequent visits to Rome, we experienced the area in a much different way.
For our first visit, 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. Surprisingly, Vatican City is its own separate country; at just 0.2 square miles, it is the smallest country in the world! It consists of a walled enclave within Rome and is also known as the Holy See.
Here, we took advantage of the day and visited some of the best sites to see in Vatican City: St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum, and the Sistine Chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica
At St. Peter’s Basilica, 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.
The basilica took over 150 years to complete, and it is magnificent! I have never seen something so ornate, with so many intricate designs, inside something so large. No space was left untouched, and no corner was left empty. My neck hurt from looking up so much!
We also climbed to the top of the dome and got a panoramic view of Rome. The stairs wound up in a circular fashion as the angles of the walls of the dome kept getting smaller and smaller.
The Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
Our last stop was The Vatican Museum. Here, we drifted through hundreds of statues, tapestries, and paintings. There was so much to look at; it was truly amazing.
The museum leads 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!
Overall, we were more interested in Vatican City for its architectural and aesthetic beauty than for its religious symbolism, but we can see how people of other faiths are captivated by its significance and power. No matter what your faith, it certainly a site to be seen.