THE Vatican or, state Vatican CITY It is the smallest independent country in the world, has less than 1000 inhabitants, but receives more than 6 million tourists a year.

The country is the seat of the Catholic Church and is located in the heart of Pomegranate. A mandatory tourist stop for anyone visiting the Italian capital, the Vatican It has a very important artistic collection in addition to buildings that are literally works of art made by some of the greatest artists in history. There are three highlights of the city: the Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica.

If you want to know the Vatican CITY set aside at least a whole morning, there is a lot to see and queues that can stretch for hours because of the large number of tourists. Some travel agencies in Rome offer personalized tours for those who want to know the Vatican, with private drivers and tips on how to arrive at the destination at the best times. THE Elmocar is one of these companies and has been operating for over 18 years receiving Brazilians in Rome, the cool thing is that all the service is done in Portuguese and they help travelers before and after the trip. To bypass the museum lines, buy your advance ticket online, it can be more expensive but it will save you a few hours.

Read too " Os 100 lugares mais lindos para viajar no Brasil

A tip is to start the day at the Vatican Museums, a group of museums with the highest concentration of works from the Italian Renaissance, founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II. It features works by Raphael, Da Vinci, and Caravaggio, as well as statues representing the Greek and Roman gods such as the famous Statue of Hercules. Among the many galleries, the most worth visiting are the Sala de Raffaello Sanzio, where there is a large collection of Raffaello's beautiful frescoes; the Egyptian Art Gallery, which concentrates pieces from ancient Egypt brought to Italy when Egypt was part of the ancient Roman Empire; and the Gallery of Maps, a long corridor, finely decorated on the walls and ceiling, containing about 40 maps produced by Ignazio Danti, representing the Papal States.

The museums provide two suggested routes, one longer and one shorter, and both end up the crown jewel of the Vatican Museums: the Sistine Chapel.

The chapel is where cardinals gather to elect popes and where Michelangelo's most famous frescoes, The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment, are gathered. These and others not so well known come together to illustrate Genesis on the ceiling of the chapel. Vision is enriching but should not be recorded. The Sistine Chapel is sacred, tourists are asked to be silent, it is forbidden to take pictures and it is not allowed to enter with bare knees and shoulders, this goes for men and women.

Vatican Tourism: Top places to visit. Photo: Mario Sanchez Prada

Photo: Mario Sanchez Prada

Photo: Paolo Grisleri

Vatican Tourism: Top places to visit. Photo: via Flickr – replicant2009

The museum exit is right at the entrance to St. Peter's Basilica. Therefore, if you choose to visit the museums first, you can avoid the queue to enter. Entrance to the basilica is free and at peak times the queue goes around the square.

The attractions of the Santa Sede church are the ornaments and beautiful works of art displayed inside. Among the most famous are Bernini's Baldachin, made in bronze, which is exactly on the Tomb of Saint Peter; the statue of Saint Peter on his throne by Arnolfo di Cambio, very famous for the tradition of tourists touching one of the statue's feet asking for protection; and Michelangelo's famous Pieta, representing the Virgin Mary with Jesus, dead, in her arms. And finally, the great dome also designed by Michelangelo, completely surrounded by magnificent mosaics.

Photo: via Flcikr – fabietto76

After seeing everything very calmly, let's go down to the Tomb of the Popes. Near the main Altar there is a ladder, just go down. Entry is not paid. All the Popes in History are buried there, since Saint Peter, the First Pope in history, was buried.

The Necropolis, where the Tomb of Saint Peter is located, can be visited during your visit to the Vatican, but if that is your intention, book in advance.

While in the Basilica, be sure to climb the dome. It is 136 meters high and is the tallest building in Rome, from there you can see all of St. Peter's Square and, on clear days, much of the city.

In front of the Basilica we are in St. Peter's Square, designed by Bernini, it is the gateway to the Vatican City. It is surrounded by 284 columns, 140 statues of saints, fountains and the grandiose Egyptian Obelisk in the centre. Around the Obelisk we find the Rose of the Winds, sixteen marble discs decorated with human faces blowing in the different directions of the wind. For fans of the book series "The Da Vinci Code", it will bring to mind the symbologist Robert Langdon making another one of his wild deductions right there.

Vatican Tourism: Top places to visit. Photo: via Flickr – yukuno

In addition to the 16 “winds”, there is an additional circle with other disks a little further to the outside. Precisely at noon on the spring and autumn equinoxes, the shadow cast by the tip of the obelisk coincides with one of these markings. In other words, the monument in the center of the square is an immense clock.

But if you go to the Vatican, you have to see the Pope, right? And it is possible! Every Sunday morning, the Pope appears in the second window from right to left of the Apostolic Palace to give the blessing to the faithful.


Vatican Museums

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm (last entry time is at 4 pm)*
Price: 16€ buying at the entrance; €27 in advance online. If you prefer a more informative visit, there are guided tours of the 3 tourist environments from 30 to 40€.

Free: every last Sunday of the month until 12:30 pm
*check the museum opening calendar to see which days are closed.

St. Peter's Basilica

Opening hours: From October to March: from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm. From April to September: from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. The dome opens an hour later and closes an hour earlier.

Free entrance
Ascent to the dome: Elevator to the terrace and 320 steps on foot: 8€. Ascent on foot (551 steps): 6€.

+ Info:

Guide in Portuguese in Italy
Tel: +39 06 52 27 92 15
WhatsApp: +39 346 754 55 18

» Italy: Brazilian guide and driver service in Rome
» Italy: is it worth taking a city tour in Rome?
» Best destinations in Italy from Rome
» Brazilians do not need a visa to enter Italy

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