ADD TO LISTThe Vatican City is an independent city-state located inside Rome , Italy . Home of the Pope and the headquarters of Catholicism, the walled Vatican contains a staggering amount of cultural treasures packed within a small area. St. Peter’s Basilica is the second largest basilica in the world and has art and design contributed by many great artists, including Italy's Michelangelo and Raphael. Admire the dome from inside and watch the light streaming in from above. The Piazza San Pietro is one of the great public spaces in the world with a giant plaza surrounded by columns opening up to St. Peter’s Basilica. Some of the greatest art in the world resides in the Vatican Museums, of which the Sistene Chapel is one of the most famous parts (although far from being the only highlight). This chapel is known for Michelangelo’s Creation and Last Judgment frescoes. It is also sometimes erroneously called the Sixteenth Chapel.
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First, be aware that to enter St Peters Basillica, men must have thier legs covered so no shorts or mid lenght pants. Ladies, it is respectfull to cover your head and shoulders with a scarf. You will notice that when you view the Cistine Chapel that a.) you cannot speak in there. b.) no flash when taking pictures in fact I'm not sure you can even take pics in there. Notice that Michealangelos frescos on the ceiling were not planned out properly. He starts with large robust figures at one end and finds himself cramped for space towards the other end. He did however do an incredible job. The large painting on the wall which i believe depicts pergatory was something that the great painter was apposed to doing. So angry that he painted the face of he who forced him to paint onto one of the charaters dying bodies. After the chaple you will enter the Basillica. There are riches beyond your wildest imagination to see. The floor alone is made up of many beautful marbles and so much symbolism. I believe that there are symbols embedded in the floor that indicate distances of other places from the basillica. You will notice that even though there are huge paintings inside that you are allowed to take flash pictures. Why? Because the originals were removed and replicas were painstakingly created with micro mosaics. I am an artist and didn't figure this out until I read about it after leaving:(
St Peter's has to be the highlight here...do climb up for the fabulous views below on the square.. matched only by the views above from below ... check out Michelangelo's Pieta near the entrance and the fabulous architecture and art inside... and then, of course, there is the mind-blowing Sistine Chapel .... has to be seen to be believed... is believed to bring tears of joy in many people... of course, this is a bit tough when you are herded like cattle through it... but the crowds are such that there is no option apparently... reach there early to join the queue for the tickets... in Vatican City, get stamps and post a letter ... its another country with its own post... you are not in Rome (even if you are) so you don't need to do as Romans do... may as well get a kick put of it...
If you want to see the Sistine ceiling alone, in the most awe-inspired way, you need to do things: 1) get in line one hour before opening; then jog past all the amazing Raphael Stanze etc. and follow the signs to the Sistine Chapel. As a result, you will be the first there and will have the place all to yourself, an amazing experience! Then you have to fight against the flow of traffic to see the Raphael rooms, but it is worth the hassle. When you go to the Vatican museum, the last painting by Raphael, which shows an epileptic boy in a grand mall, is amazing. All the "normal" humans can't see up to heaven. But in his frenzy, the boy has one eye towards heaven, and the other towards hell. It is an amazing piece. It actually works that Guilio Romano finished the work, because he depicted heaven, and has a lighter touch vs the very bold work of his teacher, so it does seem other-worldly and of a different reality.
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