We got an early start today and were out of the apartment by 7:30. The temp was a crispy 3 degrees Celsius but the walk was invigorating. We’re arrived at St. Peter’s Square about 8:45 and with just a quick gawk, headed around the backside of the complex to the Vatican Museums. My wonderful husband had again thought ahead and with online tickets in hand we jumped the queue and were at the starting gate by 9AM. After a couple of missteps with our audio guides we finally got on the right track and were able to follow the Tour Musei map. It’s really hard to know what to write. We spent about six hours there and by the end, the art, statues, relics and overwhelming information was all blending together in a hodge podge of images and facts. The museum was divided into sections so I will do the sane and try to keep each description as concise as possible.
2. (Apparently there was no 1 which is where we got messed up at the start). Muse Egizio or Egypt museum. We zipped through this one pretty quick as most was a repeat of what we had already seen in Egypt. My one comment here is that our Egyptian tour guide had told us that many of their best pieces had been liberated by other countries and their museums. Seeing this display today I would say that the Vatican got a fair number of them.
3 and 4 were both closed.
5. Cortile della Pigna – this is a large outdoor courtyard with a few statues but known for the very large bronze pine cone at the head of the yard. I believe that this was a gift from one of the emperors but don’t quote me on that.
6. Muse Pio Clementine – this is rooms and rooms of statues. Roman and Greek. Animals. Men. Women. It is mind boggling!
24. No, these don’t really go in order. Muse Etrusco – this is a large section dedicated to the Etruscans. They were a race of people that were the forerunners to the Romans. In this display, we saw artwork, pottery, early chariots and all the other everyday things that make people’s lives go around.
55. Galleria de Candelabri – This was originally an open air loggia but was covered during the 18th century in order to protect the statues and artwork located here. It is so named because a pair of candelabra frame each archway.
7. Galleria degli Arazzi – this is a long passageway in which the walls are covered in tapestries. They were so very beautiful and each one is a piece of art.
9. Galleria delle Carte Geografiche – or more simply, The Map Room. The walls are covered in large maps, some very ancient and then some that are well, almost as ancient. I am sure that some are also from when everyone thought that the world was flat.
10. Galleria Pio V – This was the apartment of Pope Pius V and contains a number of paintings, ceramics and tapestries from his private collection.
14. Stanza di Raffaello – This section was a series of rooms that were covered in murals painted by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino during the Renaissance. These murals all tell a story, in brilliant colors, most relating to the history of Christianity. Absolutely beautiful!!
18 and 20. Appartmento Borgia and Collezione Arte Reliogosa Contemporanea – These were the apartments of Pope Borgia and they now contain a collection of modern, Christian art.
21. The Sistine Chapel – well, what can you say about this? Actually, it was much smaller than I anticipated but Michelangelo’s frescoes are spectacular. They tell the story of creation and then the downfall of the human race. Pretty fantastic!!
22. Vatican Library – Although there were many items on display throughout these hallways, there were no actual books in sight. They were all locked away in locker type cupboards as only the learned folks within the Vatican are allowed to use these books.
23. Pinacoteca – This building was created by Pius IX in 1931 expressly to house a collection of paintings belonging to various popes starting as early as 1775. Quite eclectic.
8. Museo Gregoriano Profano – This contains Greek original works, Roman copies and sculptures dating from the 1st to the 3rd c. A.D. Impressive.
EXIT!! I won’t lie – we were ready for the Exit. I believe that you could visit this museum on many occasions and still not see everything. As I mentioned at the beginning, there is so much to see that it is really hard to absorb it all.
From the museum, we headed back to St. Peter’s Square and of course the Basilica. After standing in line for a few minutes (no special tickets to this one) and going through security, we were entering the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world. During our travels, we have seen so many churches and always think that we will never see anything more beautiful than the last. But, we were wrong again. St. Peter’s Basilica is spectacular!! We walked around the church for about an hour and still are not sure that we took it all in.
We left the Vatican, satisfied that we had had a full day, and walked slowly back to our apartment. Our feet are sore and we are tired but we are content and so very blessed.
The Vatican Museum…. I apologize for so many pictures, but I have grouped a lot of them together.
The Burial Place of St. John Paul II
I had mentioned in an earlier blog post that I had never seen a Christmas manger scene like the one I had then, but this one raised the bar again.
A 360 of St. Peter’s Square.
My Absolute Favourite Moment of the day was when I was able to the see the Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica. For me, the greatest carving ever done.