Within the boundaries of Rome is the residence of the Holy See — the dwarf state of the Vatican. Unique architectural structures are concentrated on its territory, rare documents and relics reflecting the history of Christianity are kept.


Who should visit the Vatican and why?

The enclave, surrounded on all sides by ancient walls, is located on a hill near the Tiber River and has a border length of only 3.2 km. There are hundreds of religious shrines, art galleries, museums and palaces that are part of the treasury of world culture. Tourists from all over the world arrive daily to admire the sights of the Vatican. They study works of art collected by the ministers of the Catholic Church, visit exhibition halls, palaces and local churches.

Scientists, university professors, graduate students strive to get into the Vatican library, which contains rare printed books, ancient manuscripts, manuscripts, engravings, and artifacts. Every year, 150 specialists can get open access to its funds and read archival materials. For ordinary tourists on weekdays, a guided tour of the library is available.

Pilgrims visit the Vatican every day. They come to attend the service and receive the blessing of the Pontiff. Believers rush to the Vatican Cathedral, where you can fall to the shrines of the Catholic Church and pray.

Going to the Vatican, leave at home overall umbrellas, piercing, cutting objects, a tripod from the camera. Security will not let you through the checkpoint with these things. Do not take food, water and other drinks with you — entry with them is prohibited.

Cultural and natural attractions

central square

centralna ploshad

The main square of the Vatican was designed by Giovanni Bernini in the 17th century. It has the shape of two symmetrical semicircles. Its borders are framed by white marble colonnades supporting a ribbon on which statues of saints are placed.

In the center stands an obelisk made of granite, brought to Rome from Egypt during the reign of Emperor Caligula. The top of the obelisk was previously crowned with a bronze ball. Now the ball has been moved to the Capitoline Museum, and a cross has been put in its place. The obelisk is the cultural heritage of the Vatican, performing the function of a sundial.

Saint Paul’s Cathedral

sobor st petra

The central square is adorned with the Cathedral of St. Peter, in the construction of which Italian architects of the Renaissance took part. Its dome with a cross is visible from afar. The majestic facade is crowned with huge statues of the apostles, Jesus Christ and John the Baptist.

Visitors to the cathedral can see here:

  • statue and chair of St. Peter;
  • marble headstones and monuments;
  • wall mosaics;
  • icons;
  • relics of saints.

The interior of the cathedral consists of numerous gold ornaments, statues and frescoes with biblical images.

In St. Peter’s Basilica there is a sculpture «Lamentation of Christ» by Michelangelo. The marble pieta embodies the image of the Virgin Mary grieving over the body of her son. The figures are made in full growth.

The sculpture realistically conveys the tragedy of the situation and evokes strong emotions. To protect the masterpiece from vandals, it was surrounded by bulletproof glass.

Grottoes of the Vatican

groti vaticana

Below the level of the foundation of the Cathedral is a crypt — the grottoes of the Vatican. The first Roman Christians, 23 pontiffs, kings and religious figures are buried there. Their graves and coffins are located in special niches. Below the grotto are ancient Roman burials. It was there that the tomb of St. Peter was found, over which the first Christian church was subsequently erected.

After visiting the crypt, people can go up to the dome of the cathedral by elevator and go out to the inner balcony. From there frescoes, an altar, a mosaic on glasses are well looked through. The stairs make it easy to get to the observation deck and admire the architecture of the Eternal City from a bird’s eye view.

Gardens of the Vatican

sad vatikana

About half of the territory of the Vatican is occupied by a botanical park planted with rare trees, shrubs, and flowers. The total area of ​​green spaces is 20 hectares. On a hilly area there is a complex of towers, beautiful buildings, flower beds, fountains with spring water, shady alleys.

In the park, it is easy to find African palms and chestnuts, cypresses and oaks in the neighborhood. Trees provide coolness in the midday heat and fill the air of the Vatican with forest freshness. In the evenings, the Pope and the cardinals of the Catholic Church walk in the gardens. Well-groomed paths are decorated with small and large sculptures.

Among the green spaces, ancient towers and main administrative buildings are also hidden here:

  • academy of sciences;
  • radio directorate;
  • railway station;
  • judicial chamber.

The Vatican Gardens are a popular attraction. But you can get there only with a group of tourists under the guidance of a guide. The walking tour takes place in the morning and lasts 2 hours. At this time in the garden you can buy flowers in pots, dried bouquets as a keepsake and seeds to plant plants at home.

Apostolic Palace

apostolski palace

One of the most popular places to visit is the official residence of the Pontiff.

The Papal or Apostolic Palace is a complex of buildings in which there are:

  • museums;
  • the Vatican Library;
  • the Pope’s office;
  • audience room;
  • hall of consistories;
  • Clementine Hall;
  • small and large throne rooms.

On three floors of the palace there are lodges painted by the great Raphael. The vaulted spans of the balcony on the second floor of the eastern side of the building are decorated with frescoes representing Biblical events. The boxes on the first and third floors were painted mainly by the master’s students according to his sketches.

Apartments Borgia

apartament bordgia

The Apostolic Palace houses the Borgia apartments. The rooms are decorated with frescoes by Pinturicchio, statues of the prophets, and rare icons. Each room is distinguished by its decoration and unique wall paintings.

Tourists are shown an office, a bedroom, a treasury of Pope Alexander VI and a collection of modern religious art. The fund of the collection includes about 800 paintings by famous artists, stained-glass windows, sculptures, graphics.

Stanzas of Raphael

stansi rafael

The palace has 4 small rooms — stanzas. Three were painted by Raphael, and the last room was painted by students after the death of the master. Paintings are painted on each wall, differing in saturation and brightness of images.

They are dedicated to human spirituality and show the victory of Christianity over paganism. It is better to study the stanzas under the guidance of a guide who will tell you how the master chose subjects for work and help you understand the depth of his intention.

The Sistine Chapel

sikstinska capella

The complex of the Apostolic Palace includes the Sistine Chapel, which is a unique monument of the Renaissance. After the death of the Pope, a conclave convenes in the church, and the cardinals choose a new pontiff by secret ballot.

The rest of the time it’s a museum. In it you can admire the wall paintings reflecting the life of Jesus Christ, Moses, and the paintings on the ceiling showing the stages of the Last Judgment and the creation of Adam. The chapel has a choir, known as the «Sistine Chapel Chorus», consisting of boys and men.

Gallery of Maps

galerea geograf map

A corridor was built in the Papal Palace, painted with geographical maps showing the possessions of the Catholic Church in ancient times. Here you can see maps of Sicily, Corsica, Avignon of the 14th century, images of the siege of Malta, frescoes showing the life of the apostles and scenes from the Old Testament.

Paintings for the gallery of Geographical maps were made by order of Pope Gregory XIII.

Candelabra Gallery

galerea kandelyabrov

In the Apostolic Palace there is a corner filled with monuments of Greek art — the Candelabra Gallery, founded in 1761. Initially, marble candelabra were kept in it, but gradually statues of nymphs, satyrs, pagan gods, fragments of frescoes and Greek vases began to be installed in the room.

Arazzi Hall

sal aracci

The Arazzi Gallery presents tapestries with scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The works of art are based on drawings by Raphael. They were hand-woven by Flemish craftsmen from silk and wool. When exposed to light, antique tapestries fade. So that the masterpieces do not suffer, the gallery is always twilight and it is forbidden to use cameras with a flash.

Vatican Museums

Entrance tickets to the Vatican Museums and the Apostolic Palace are easy to book online on the official website of the state. Children under 6 years old enter free of charge.

Pio Clementino Museum and Vatican Pinakothek

musei pio klementina

The Pio Clementino Museum is open in the Belvedere Palace. It houses famous Greek and Roman works of art. In the courtyard you can see the statues of Hermes, Perseus, Apollo, Laocoon with his sons. Sculptures of ancient masters are collected in 8 halls. Among them are statues of Emperor Claudius, Hercules, Anthony, busts of Greek and Roman gods.

The Belvedere Palace has a rich collection of paintings. The Vatican Pinakothek has 18 rooms. They exhibit works by Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, Titian, Renaissance paintings and other masterpieces of world culture.

Etruscan Museum

etrusski post

The Etruscan Museum operates on the territory of the palace of Innocent VIII. The 22 rooms contain archaeological finds found during the excavations of southern Etruria: household items, ceramics, gold and silver jewelry, bronze statues, there is a marble portrait of Athena, Greek amphoras and sarcophagi.

The exhibits lift the veil of secrets of the customs and culture of the ancient people.

Egyptian Museum

egepetski museum

The Vatican State houses a large collection of Egyptian treasures. The list of exhibits includes: statues of gods, mummies of pharaohs, papyri, sarcophagi, jewelry and the famous Book of the Dead. In total, the Egyptian Museum has 9 rooms filled with unique artifacts.

Ethnological Missionary Museum

ethno museum

The Ethnological Missionary Museum functions in the Papal Palace. The spacious halls contain exhibits characterizing various religious cults. The exposition contains more than 100 thousand objects from Tibet, Mongolia, Japan, African countries.

Historical Museum

istor museum

One of the attractions of the Vatican is the Historical Museum, opened in 1978. The exhibition galleries contain the parade carriage of Pontiff Leo XII, flags, photographs, ammunition of soldiers, cars, household items — everything related to the history of the Eternal City.

Pio Cristiano

pio christiano

The museum opened to visitors in 1970. Pio Cristiano presents ancient sculptures, bas-reliefs, statues. The sarcophagus, made in 330 AD, is of great historical value.

Its surface is decorated with images from the Old and New Testaments, including the creation of man, the resurrection of Lazarus and the worship of the Magi. The collection of the museum contains art objects of the early Christian era, found in the Roman catacombs.

Chiaramonti Museum

museum kiamorti

The real treasure trove of Greek and Roman culture is the Chiaramonti Museum.

The exhibits are located in three thematic halls:

  • Gallery Chiaramonti are ancient sculptures, urns with the ashes of ancient figures and sarcophagi.
  • The Galleria Braccio Nuovo preserves exhibits related to Roman history and Greek mythology.
  • The Lapidaria Gallery contains pre-Christian artifacts and sarcophagi with relics from the early Christian era.

Entrance to the last hall is limited and available upon request.