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The Vatican City is an independent city-state and a museum that can be visited in one or two days. It covers an area of 0.439 square kilometers and has a population of almost 900 inhabitants. It was created in 1929 by the Lateran Pacts between the Holy See and the Italian State. St. Peter’s Basilica covers 7% of the Vatican City and St. Peter’s Square covers 13%. Its name comes from the Latin term vaticínium and means prediction, as formerly there was an Etruscan oracle on the hill.
The city-state has one of the largest collections of works of art in the world, known as the Vatican Museums. They date back to when Pope Julius II privately donated a collection of artwork in 1503. Since then, families, individuals, states and popes have selflessly made more donations to the collection, thus increasing its size.
It is believed that St. Peter the apostle is buried in St. Peter’s Basilica and that the basilica was built on top of his grave. Inspired by the idea of Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno designed the basilica in the shape of a Latin cross. He added three bays and a façade with huge pillars. Many artists played a part in the construction of the building, including the sculptor Alessandro Algardi, who created the Fuga d’Attila relief, and Michelangelo, who made the Pietà sculpture, which is in the chapel on the right-hand side of the basilica.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed St. Peter’s Square as an “entrance hall” to St. Peter’s Basilica in 1656. It was completed in 1667. It is a trapezoidal shaped forecourt, which opens out onto a large circular courtyard with colonnades crowned by a balustrade. On top of the balustrade there are 140 sculptures of saints. There are also two fountains and, in the middle of the square, there is an obelisk that stands 25 meters high known as the “silent witness”, as it was brought to a Roman coliseum from Egypt. In 1586, Pope Sixtus V erected it next to St. Peter’s Basilica in memory of the martyrdom of St. Peter, who was crucified near the obelisk.
The Sistine Chapel is famous because of Michelangelo’s fresco The Last Judgment, which decorates the dome and the closing wall of the chapel. On the left side of the chapel, at the altar, there are frescos that tell the story of the lives of Jesus Christ and Moses. The Renaissance painters Boticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, Rosselli and Signorelli all contributed to these frescos.
The Vatican Pinacoteca was opened in 1932. It has eight exhibition halls that are in chronological order according to the period the paintings date back to. Italian primitives, late-Gothic paintings, paintings from the Venetian Cinquecento, works by Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael de Zancio, Italian painters and 15th-century painters from outside Italy are all featured.
The Vatican has been through sinister periods and happy periods but no one can deny the fact that St. Peter’s Basilica and everything that surrounds it is a heavenly museum dedicated to the preservation of Christian beliefs, which is worth visiting regardless of your personal religious views. For this reason there is a variety of incredible accommodation nearby. The area offers luxury hotels, cozy hotels, smaller hotels, modern hotels and family orientated hotels, all of which are tasteful but expensive. If you take a stroll in the nearby streets you will come across beautiful apartments that are available to rent. The decor is typically Roman and they have spacious kitchens, lots of natural light, and large bedrooms. In addition, they are fully equipped for guests and have Wi-Fi. They are easy to reach and, best of all, you can share them with your family or friends. Studios tend to be smaller, but are an excellent option for younger people. They are fully equipped, have Wi-Fi, are easy to get to, close to where all the action is and less expensive. Since the area is expensive, there are no hostels or guesthouses nearby. If you want to discover the Vatican Museum and marvel at the work of great artists, just take a look at your budget, check our catalogue and rent one of our apartments close to the Vatican.
Visiting the museums is a popular activity amongst visitors once they have seen St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square and the Pinacoteca. We recommend that you go on a weekday at lunchtime in order to avoid the crowds.
If you want to take a stroll around corridors bursting with artwork and lose yourself in history, then rent one of our apartments close to the Vatican. We have an offer like no other available on the market, just take a look at our catalogues and compare them to anything else – you will soon see the value you get for your money.
Leonardo da Vinci Airport (Rome-Fiumicino) is 32 kilometers away from Termini Station. Buses leave every 20 minutes for Termini and the trip takes approximately 30 minutes. At Termini you can take a taxi or the No.64 bus. A taxi ride from Fiumicino to the Vatican costs €50 and you catch one from opposite of departures. All of the international car rental companies have counters at the airport, in case you wish to travel outside of Rome.