Saturday, 5 January 2008

Vatican City Sightseeing

One of the most sought after sughtseeing destinations for those on a vacation to Italy is the Vatican City. Most people do not know that this is actually sovereign city-state, which means that it makes its own rules and has its own governing system, independent of the Italian system.

The Vatican City is a state within the city of Rome, surrounded by a wall. It was formed in 1929 under an agreement between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See and is the smallest independent state in the whole world with only a little over 100 acres. . The Holy See refers to the central governing system of the Catholic Church headed by the Pope, who is also known as the Bishop of Rome.

The Vatican City itself is home to the official residence of the Pope and is visited by millions of people each year sightseeing in Italy.

To get to the Vatican City you will first visit the famous St. Peter's square. This square is characterized by fabulous Baroque architecture from the 17th century, including symbols of the church motherly embracing its people in its arms.

St. Peter's Basilica is another place that I recommend you visit while sightseeing in the Vatican City because it is also found in St. Peter's square. It is the most distinctive building in the Vatican City and this church's dome can be seen for miles around Rome. St. Peter's Basilica seats 60,000 and is said to be the largest building in the Christian church. It is noted for being the burial site of St. Peter who is said to be the founding father of the Catholic Church by being the first Bishop of Rome. The discovery of his tomb was announced in 1950 after a decade of archeological research.

Catholic tradition says that St. Peter is buried under the altar of this Basilica and that all the Popes since then have also been buried in the Basilica the most recent being Pope John Paul II back in 2005. At the entrance to the Basilica are statues of Christ, St. John the Baptist and 11 of the 12 apostles. You can enter the Basilica for free during your Italian sightseeing vacation, but make sure you are properly dressed with no bare shoulders or knees. If you would like to attend mass you should go to the Basilica on a Sunday.

There are several other places to see here during your Italy vacation. The largest museum in the world is also found in the Vatican City. It has over 1400 rooms and galleries that represent 3000 years of art. The Sistine Chapel is also found here and is known for being the private chapel that the cardinals go to when electing a new Pope.

So what is the best way to see all the sights that the Vatican City has to offer during your Italian sightseeing vacation? There are plenty guided tours that can be taken for half a day or a full day. You can take a guided tour of only the museum or a guided tour which includes all the important places of interest in the Vatican City. This will ensure that you don't miss a thing while sightseeing in the Vatican City.

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