The Vatican City State is the smallest state in the world, confined by the bustling metropolis of Rome. We made our way to St. Peter’s Square where a large crowd had gathered surrounded by the imposing pillars.

Exactly at noon the Pope Francis appeared as a tiny white dot in the window of the Apostolic Palace. His fragile voice boomed across the square from multiple speakers.

Pope Francis The noble sport of Pope-spotting.

Even though the state is less than a hundred years old, the area has been of great importance for thousands of years. Naturally the Vatican is extremely popular for tourists, which in combination with the high security this creates massive queues and crowds. It’s been featured in books and films for as long as the medias have existed.

A recent dash in public interest was the the movie Angels & Demons from 2009, as well as the book with the same name, where locations from the Vatican were vital elements of the plot.

St. Peter’s Basilica is the obvious poster boy of the Vatican. Regardless of religion, the world’s largest basilica leaves no soul untouched. Everyone entering the massive interior is gazing around in awe. The church is said to be founded upon the burial site of St. Peter, crucified in 64 AD.

One of my favorite places to visit is the Vatican Grottoes, a underground system of caves beneath the church. It features the graves of many popes and saints in massive sarcophagus, as well as the tomb of Swedish queen Kristina and the infamous tomb of St. Peter.

Reine in the Basilica Reine roaming around in St Peter’s Basilica.

There is also much to see in the lavishly decorated interior of the church, such as the haunting Pieta statue by Michelangelo. Apart from art, the church is filled with historical details. The first you see when entering is a red marker on the marble floor, indicating the very spot where Charlemagne was once crowned by the pope.

View from the top View of the Vatican from the St. Peter’s Basilica cupola.

Literally topping if all off, the view from the cupola where Anita Ekberg once lost her hat to the wind in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is probably one of the greatest in the world.

Maps Gallery Maps Gallery with golden ceiling.

The Vatican Museums are another popular spot. A maze of halls and courtyards contains historical art, one of the greatest collections on the planet. The collections range from the divine, such as the painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, to the mundane, including the old bathtub of Nero. There is also more modern marvels like the Bramante Staircase.

Bramante Staircase Bramante Staircase from 1932.

A word of warning: the crowds! On my last visit here almost 20 years ago, I remember that it was a lot of visitors, but nothing compared to this time. Bring plenty of water and comfy shoes, at the very least. The patience of a modern-day saint would also do wonders, I suppose.


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