Vatican: the smallest country in the world!
With only 44 hectares and 825 inhabitants, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world, but it does not mean it loses its importance, beauty and relevance! With its sumptuous St. Peter’s Basilica, it offers the visitor much more than this architectural and sacred beauty. Today we will find out what to do in the Vatican: the smallest country in the world! Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patriciayou make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”
The Vatican is the smallest country in the world! Famous for being the seat of the Holy See, the Vatican presents itself in a magnificent way to our eyes, as soon as we are welcomed by the splendid St Peter’s Basilica, located in the square of the same name. Also read how to see the Pope in Rome? and How to request the Pope’s Blessing?
- Visit the Vatican in the morning! There are fewer people and the tour is more peaceful! St. Peter’s Square allows access at 6:30 am, St. Peter’s Basilica opens at 7:00 am and the dome at 8:00 am. However, be aware that on Wednesdays, in the morning (until the end of the papal audience), both the Basilica and the Dome DO NOT OPEN! The Vatican Museums are open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and during the summer, on Fridays, they extend the hours and operate from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
1) VISIT IN THE VATICAN: THE SAINT PETER’S BASILICA!
It would be heresy not to start with the main spot of the Vatican: the greatest star, the most beloved of the Churches, and one of the most beautiful in the world, the powerful St. Peter’s Basilica. It is the most important church in Christianity, and also a beautiful example of Baroque architecture and is, in fact, sumptuous!
The attractions of the Basilica
One of the most special attractions of the Basilica is, without a doubt, Michelangelo’s Pietà; in addition to the many monumental papal tombs built inside the basilica. In the crypt of the church are some tombs of popes prior to the construction of the basilica and the popes of the last century, including the tomb of Pope John Paul II. From the sacristy, you can access the beautiful Vatican Museums (which we will see soon!).
People, it’s good to know that churches in Italy have free access and are open to everyone, but there are two specific days in the week that they get QUITE full: Wednesday and Sunday! To access the churches in Italy, I warn you that some do security control at the entrance, but it is something very quick; another thing: avoid going with very low-cut, short clothes and with bare shoulders, you can be blocked at the entrance. Learn all about St. Peter’s Basilica here!
- People, contrary to what many people think, when we talk about visits to churches, it is good to know that religion is not, in fact, the main reason to visit them; Italian churches go beyond religion and dominate for their stories, architecture and priceless works.
- Take the tour with a guide! Hire a guide to, literally, have another view of what is visited! The guides give us another view of EVERYTHING that you see, not to mention that everything is much more interesting, as they will present you with stories and curiosities that, perhaps, you wouldn’t even know if you were alone! Send me a message and I’ll send you the value of the guide in Rome!
2) VISIT IN THE VATICAN: THE BASILICA DOME
Also famous as ‘er Cupolone, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is visible from ALL the high points of the city center, which confirms its majesty and grandeur! The visit to the Michelangelo’s Dome costs 10 euros, if you prefer to use the elevator, and 8 euros if you want to go up on foot! Once at the top, get ready to have one of the most beautiful views of your life: splendid Rome, literally, at your feet! Also read about the most beautiful panoramic views of Rome!
Important to Know
- If you suffer from claustrophobia and vertigo, I suggest that you do not visit it; the same goes if you suffer from breathing and / or heart problems. Remembering that the last 300 steps can be done on foot; the big problem is not the physical effort, but its inclination and altitude, in addition to the narrow and closed space! If you have any of the problems mentioned, choose not to go up, O.K?
3) VISIT IN THE VATICAN: THE VATICAN MUSEUMS
We got to the magnificent Vatican Museums. The museums are undoubtedly one of the most BEAUTIFUL in the world and are home to priceless relics! Impressive pieces! In addition to the incredible rooms, the spiral staircase, made entirely of marble, deserves to be highlighted. It is worth visiting at any time of the year, but it is good to know that, at any time of the year, you may have to take a short line to access it. People, reserve at least half the day to visit the Museums! It is an immense complex and full of wonderful works! You can stay there for 4 to 6 hours and not even watch the time go by, as it is a special place! Read here how to visit the Vatican Museums!
- Buy your ticket in advance whenever possible for all the attractions you want to visit!
- Tickets: Buy through the official website – access here or Buy through the website in english- access here
- Read also: how do I book tickets to Vatican museums?
4) VISIT IN THE VATICAN: THE SISTINE CHAPEL
Can we talk about the Vatican without talking about this jewel? Of course not! The Sistine Chapel is splendid! All the positive adjectives you know, you can be sure, fit perfectly to describe this place! It’s good to know that the ticket can be combined with the Vatican Museums, so plan your visit well, O.K.? Especially because the number of daily visitors here is limited.
One of Michelangelo’s masterpieces offers us a world of colors and beauty! It is impossible not to be jaw-dropping, or speechless, when your eyes find this poetry in the form of painting! With impressive details and unique techniques used by Michelangelo, I suggest you to visit it with a guide, who will tell you EVERYTHING about one of the most famous chapels in human history, not to mention his incredible curiosities! Read everything about the Sistine Chapel here!
5) VISIT IN THE VATICAN: SANT´ANGELO CASTLE
Another major symbol of the Vatican! Sant’Angelo Castle emerged as a mausoleum for Hadrian and was transformed into a medieval fortress where the Pope took refuge to protect himself from possible threats and, finally, became a prison. The Castle connects to the Vatican City through a fortified passage, which in the past was used to make the Pope safely escape any sign of imminent danger. Nowadays, it is a museum and it is possible to go through this passage mentioned above! I also suggest you buy the ticket in advance and visit with a guide! Read everything about the Castle here! and Click here to purchase tickets with Ticketbar!
6) VISIT IN THE VATICAN: BONUS – VISIT THE CATACOMBS!
Although there is not much to see here, it can be something different and interesting to do! The Vatican Catacombs do not have an official opening hours and, I confess, it takes a bit of luck to be able to enter! However, if you succeed, you will be able to see the famous Tomb of Saint Peter. Read all about the Tomb of Saint Peter here!
The caves are formed by a church with three naves and niches, with corridors and chapels. Several popes, kings and queens are buried here and, all, so they can be ‘close’ to St Peter. The space was recently renovated, you cannot take photos, the tour does not last more than 15 minutes (more than enough) and, again, it is not advisable for those who suffer from claustrophobia, breathing and / or heart problems. Discover other catacombs in Rome here!
- What to buy in the Vatican? Rosaries, postcards, and religious souvenirs. It is good to know that purchases made in Vatican City are VAT-free, that is, you do not pay taxes, however, it is not all that the tourist can buy; products such as special stamps, perfumes, cosmetics and cigarettes can be purchased only for residents who have a special card issued by the Vatican State. Also read where to shop in Rome!
Below we can get an idea of the size of the Vatican with this very clear map that shows us how the country is formed!
The history of the Vatican
Well, let’s get to the beginning of everything: the Vatican’s diplomatic history started, in fact, in the fourth century. Although many think that the papacy has always exercised power in the small country, it was not so! The limits of the papacy’s power have evolved over the centuries, as its prerogatives have led a large part of the Italian peninsula, including Rome, for almost a whole millennium. This full power came from the (false) Donation of Constantine, (Constitutum Donatio Constantini or Constitutum domini Constantini imperatoris, in Latin) and was a document presented in the Middle Ages as by the Roman empire. There was, however, an immense questioning about its validity and legitimacy, which offered the Catholic Church full control of its territories; as it is known, there was much more political interest than religious, and the church itself considers the document to be worthless.
A little more about Vatican history
In AD 756, the Pontifical States were founded when Pepin, the Short, responded to the pope’s request for help and fought the Lombards, who in the 8th century threatened to invade Rome and its surrounding territories. Pope Stephen II appealed to the Frankish people, who were governed not by the king, but by the royal palace butler, Pepin. Thus, Pepin would have recognized the Pope as “Sovereign of the Patrimony of Saint Peter”. After a long time, on February 11th, 1929, the so-called Roman Question (was the document false or not?), the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI finally signed the famous Lateran Treaty, a TRUE document, in which the Italy recognizes the sovereignty of the Holy See over the Vatican and declares it as a sovereign, neutral and inviolable state.
How to get to the Vatican?
1) How to get to the Vatican? BY AIRPLANE
You landed in Fiumicino. Is the anxiety is speaking louder? Take the Leonardo Express train that will take you directly to Rome’s central station, Termini; from there you take the subway on line A in the direction of Battistini; get off at the Ottaviano or Cipro stop and go on foot!
Also read our posts about Airports in Italy:
- HOW TO GO FROM THE ROME AIRPORT TO THE CENTER OF ROME?
- HOW TO GO FROM THE MALPENSA AIRPORT TO THE CENTER OF MILANO?
- HOW TO GO FROM VENICE AIRPORT TO VENICE CENTER
2) How to get to the Vatican? BY TRAIN / SUBWAY
Vatican City has its own train station, Roma San Pietro. From the station, served by the regional lines FL3 and FL5, a single route departs; following it, after crossing the viaduct, you are already in Vatican territory. Here is the Vatican Line and the route is great for those who come, too, from Civitavecchia, the cruise port of the Italian capital.
From the station to St. Peter’s Square, it is about 10 minutes walking
If you want to take the subway, use the red metro line (line A), towards Battistini, and get off at the Ottaviano or Cipro stop: the first stop is the closest to the Basilica, the second one is close to the entrance to the Museums of the Vatican. If you do not remember the name of the stations, do not worry, as there are marked indications: Ottaviano – San Pietro and Cipro – Musei Vaticani. The two are a 10-minute walk from your final destination. Read everything about the Metro in Rome here!
Did you know?
Trenitalia is the main Italian company dedicated to the management of rail transport. Also find out “What is the difference between trains in Italy?”. Would you like to save? So buy your ticket online in advance and save a lot, read the Post “How to buy a train ticket in Italy?“.
3) How to get to the Vatican? BY BUS
Numerous bus lines operate the Rome / Vatican section! It will depend on where you are staying, but I leave you with a few examples:
- bus number 40 (Termini / Piazza Venezia / Argentina / Piazza Pia / Vaticano);
- bus number 62 (Repubblica / Piazza di Spagna / Piazza Venezia / Argentina / Vatican);
- bus number 64 (Termini / Piazza Venezia / Argentina / Vatican); and
- bus number 81 (Vatican Museums / Piazza Imperatore / Spanish Steps / Piazza Colonna / Trevi Fountain / Piazza Venezia / Circo Massimo / Colosseum). If you want a different tour: take the tram! Use tram number 19 (Piazza Risorgimento / Vaticano / Villa Borghese) or number 8, which goes to the district of Trastevere; from there, continue walking north along the river, until you reach the Vatican.
- Also read how to get around Rome with Public Transport.
4) How to get to the Vatican? WALKING
Ideal for those who are in no hurry! If you like to walk and want to get to know as much as possible of where you are, you can go walking! Take Colosseum, Pantheon or Termini Station as your starting point, head west towards a bridge across the river (there are several that cross the Tiber). My suggestion? The bridge that leads directly to Sant’Angelo Castle, precisely called Sant’Angelo Bridge. Do not worry: the roads that lead to the Vatican, from Rome, are very well signposted!
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Hotel I suggest near the Historic Center
If you are passionate about art and would like to stay in the center where you can move around walking, as well as having countless possibilities for places to have lunch / dinner or a snack, I advise you to stay in the historic center. Regions near the Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Imperial Forum and the Villa Borghese, Piazza Spagna and Piazza Navona can be considered as “historic center”. These are the most expensive areas, but you will be close to everything, literally!
If you want to save a great option is the B&B, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices.
If you prefer a good hotel, I have three options that I really like, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)
Hotels that I suggest near the San Giovanni Region
For those who want to find cheaper alternatives in quiet areas, but at the same time close to the means of transport to the center, I suggest the region of San Giovanni or Monti (near the metro stations San Giovanni, Castro Pretorio and Circus Massimo) – which it is a more residential neighborhood; therefore, more economical and quiet! And with just 15 minutes by subway you will be in the center too!
I have two options for Hotels that I recommend, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)
I have two options of B&B that I recommend, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)
Hotels I suggest near Vatican City
An interesting area to stay and a little cheaper than the historic center is the Vatican area (Vatican Museums) which is very well connected with everything.
I have two options of B&B that I recommend, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)
If you prefer a hotel, I have three options that I recommend, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)
Hotel I suggest near Termini Station
For those who prefer to stay in neighborhoods that have good access to the rest of the city and at a better price, then you should choose accommodation in the surroundings of Termini Station (from where a dense network of public means of transport starts, serving both: the local people and tourists).
I have 3 good hotel suggestions in Termini, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)
If you prefer B&B I have 2 good suggestions, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)
Hotels that I suggest in Trastevere
For those who prefer to “taste” authentic and characteristic Rome, there is nothing better than booking a hotel in Trastevere (on the outskirts of the city’s historic river), full of typical Roman history and traditions, known for the tortuous streets of sampietrini stones and the centers medieval style housing.
The neighborhood is in the historic center and to the right of the Tevere River, in the midst of a spectacular landscape, where each visitor can observe the countless churches and squares (such as Santa Maria in Trastevere). In addition, this neighborhood offers several local restaurants and canteens for those who want to try typical Roman cuisine.
If you want to save a great option is the B&B, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)
If you prefer a good hotel, I have two options that I really like, click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion make your reservation and guarantee good prices;)
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Vatican: the smallest country in the world! The Vatican is rich in historical and cultural heritage. Despite its size, it can be called a ‘little giant’, as it offers its visitors impressive relics and gems! And if you feel insecure or have no time, and need help to organize your trip, do not hesitate to look for me! I will love to help you make your dream trip to Italy. And how can I do that? Continue reading this post until the end and you will understand how can we make your life and journey easier.
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