The Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican Gardens are the key features of Vatican City, the tiny country within the city of Rome, and have become symbols or points of reference for many Christians. Walks Inside Rome offers a variety of Vatican tours that can help visitors to learn more about the large symbols of this small country.
St. Peter’s Basilica
The Basilica of St. Peter is the most visited papal basilica in Rome and is the largest Christian church in the world. Beginning in 1506, the new basilica (the one we see today) was constructed on top of the previous basilica and what is believed to be the remains of St. Peter himself. With some of the most famous Renaissance artists and architects working on the final building, including Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Bernini, the result was a heavily detailed and beautiful building. The basilica was completed in 1626, and has since become one of most popular sights in Rome, for Christians and non-Christians alike.
The Vatican Museums preserve the most beautiful works in the world that have belonged to the popes over the centuries. Sculptures, marble statues, frescoes decorating the beautiful rooms and objects of the highest quality are stored in one of the most beautiful and extensive museums in the world. Visitors to the Vatican Museums are often amazed by the size and the variety of pieces, ranging from ancient Roman sculptures to pieces of modern art. But the most impressive and iconic works in the museums are the Sistine Chapel and The Last Judgement by Michelangelo.
St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Square marks the boundaries of Vatican City and is the symbol for all Catholics around the world who flock to the square every Wednesday and Sunday to see the Pope. The square is divided into three parts: the facade of the basilica, Bernini’s colonnade, and the obelisk at its center position.
The collonade designed by Bernini, with its many statues of saints at the top, are meant to symbolize two arms welcoming everyone into the church. The square’s central obelisk (one of the many Obelisks in Rome) is a monument dating back to the Roman Empire, and was placed in the Circus of Nero before it was moved to its current position. Along with the basilica’s large facade, these elements are presented in harmony with one other, and have become essential symbols of Vatican City.
The Vatican Gardens are immersed in the Vatican and in its many hectares are many varieties of plants from around the world and many works of art. The gardens house temples, statues, and fountains designed to create a beautiful and calming atmosphere. As one of the less crowded locations in the Vatican, it is no wonder why the Vatican Gardens are chosen by the popes as a place for rest and reflection.