Spanning over an area of 0.44 square kilometers, Vatican with population less than 1,000 is the smallest independent state in the world. Positioned in the heart of Rome, the Vatican is the headquarters and administrative centre of the Catholic Church. Whether it’s gawking at the splendor of St Peter’s Basilica or strolling around the Vatican Museums, there are plenty of things to do in Vatican city. Having a look at Michelangelo’s famous paintings at the Sistine Chapel is among the most mandatory experiences. This place is not just a religious destination for Catholics but also a significant place to learn so much about this place and its rich history.
Things To Do In Vatican City
The Vatican might be a small country in Europe but it has more exciting experiences than any other city in the world. After all, it is the headquarters of the Pope. Here are some of the best things to do in Vatican City.
1. Hang Around Saint Peter’s Square
Most iconic picture of Vatican City, Saint Peter’s Square is located at the centre of this small state. Designed by the famous Italian architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, colossal piazza was constructed around the Egyptian obelisk in the centre of the square. A place where the Pope hosts his papal audiences, Saint Peter’s Square has the capacity of holding 400,000 people. Square and the basilica have got the name from Saint Peter, an apostle of Jesus who was the first Pope.
Saint Peter’s Square is enclosed by two large imposing colonnades and four columns wide. The colonnades represent the ‘maternal arms of Mother Church’. You can also find two small fountains placed equidistant from colonnades and obelisk. You can easily snap a picture on the square of regal St Peter’s Basilica in the background. One of the excellent things to do in Vatican City, is to visit this historic Saint Peter’s Square.
2. Wonder At Saint Peter’s Basilica
Another grand site is Saint Peter’s Basilica that is the entrance to majestic Saint Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world. Constructed in-between 1506 and 1626, this place is built upon the tomb of Saint Peter, the first bishop of Rome.
Crafted by Michelangelo, Saint Peter’s Basilica is decked with ornate fashion and encompasses many outstandingly designed ornaments, statues and monuments. You can also capture stunning views of Rome, when you climb on the top of the Dome.
Admission to both grottos and basilica is absolutely free but there is a certain dress code to be followed. Avoid wearing sleeveless tops, short skirts and wearing shorts.
3. Visit The Vatican Necropolis
Beneath the basilica is the Vatican Necropolis where Saint Peter’s Tomb is positioned. A former cemetery encompassing Christians killed by Emperor Nero including Saint Peter, Vatican Necropolis is one of the fabulous things to do in Vatican City. Just 250 visitors are allowed to visit each day and hire a guide to explore the 20 mausoleums, including Saint Peter’s Tomb, which apparently contained his remains.
4. Meet The Pope
Leader of the Catholic Church, the Pope is the head of the Vatican City. Also, he is one of the prominent people in the world and meeting him is one of the best things to do in Vatican City. The pope addresses the audience in Saint Peter’s Square every Wednesday around 10.30 am. Greetings to special visiting groups from around the world, the pope will pray the Lord’s Prayer along with the audience.
This is one of the free things to do in Vatican City, you do need a ticket to visit the pope but it is not charged (absolutely free). If you are not available on Wednesday, then you can listen to the short speech delivered by him from the window at the noons on Sundays.
5. Relish The Artworks
Your tour to Vatican City is not complete, unless you visit Vatican Museums (believed to be one of the largest museums in the world). Founded during the 16th century, this historic museum comprises 54 galleries that consist of 1400 rooms. Besides featuring works that have been composed by the Pope throughout the centuries, the galleries are also decked with sculptures & paintings by artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci. Also, there are many historical artifacts gathered by the Catholic Church from all around the world.
A part of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel is known for Michelangelo’s stunning frescoes on the ceiling and on the altar wall. Also, the Sistine Chapel operates as the Pope’s private chapel. The emphasis is laid on the Raphael Rooms in the museum that comprises a large collection of frescoes painted by the artist. Visiting this place and exploring the beautiful architecture is certainly one of the most famous things to do in Vatican City.
6. Wander Around In The Vatican Gardens
One of the free things to do in Vatican City is to stroll around the lovely Vatican Gardens. Get away from the hustle bustle of city life, and relax in the lush green paradise of Vatican Gardens. Covering more than half the area of Vatican City, this garden is segregated into various sections that replicate various historical periods. One thing you have to make a note here is that this garden is only open to guided tours. Take a walk around the trickling Renaissance fountains, this garden features wonderful mini-gardens and magnificent sculptures. Presence of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the backdrop is truly iconic.
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7. Take A Photo With A Swiss Guard
Taking a selfie with Swiss guard is one of the fun things to do in Vatican City. You will truly be fascinated with its slight comical appearance and is known as the de facto military of the city. Guarding the city since 1506, the guards feature Swiss Catholic males with age ranging from 19 to 30(undergone military training). For the security of the pope, the guards carry traditional weapons such as halberds and also they make use of firearms and martial arts. You are truly welcome to take a picture along with the Swiss guard but do expect them to pose for you while they are on duty.
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8. Stop Over At The Castel Sant’Angelo
Visiting the Castel Sant’Angelo is considered as one of the best things to do in Vatican City. It was built in the second century and consists of the tomb of Roman emperor Hadrian. Later, it was converted into a military fortress, then a papal residence, and finally into a contemporary museum. Thanks to the Archangel Michael statue that is perched on the top of the tower, you can enjoy breathtaking views.
It comprises rooms that serve as papal residences and also exclusive collection of prison cells and weapons are showcased here. Coming to the top floor, it encapsulates a small terrace that treats the visitors with lip smacking coffee while enjoying the view of Rome.
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9. Tour This Place At Night
There are many things to do in Vatican City at night but for a magical experience, do visit the Vatican Museums. They open their doors on Friday nights from April to October, feel privileged to roam the corridors and admire the artwork of this museum. Imagine the feel of the music played during the moonlight, Isn’t it beautiful? Right outside the museum, outdoor concerts are held by classical musicians.
Take a romantic stroll at Saint Peter’s Square that is brimming by lights of basilica’s dome and is basked in the peaceful location. After visiting all these places, you can also head to the nearby restaurants in Rome.
Amazed? With all these exciting things to do in Vatican City, we bet you are! Book a trip to Europe and visit this tiny place to experience all that this paradise has to offer you. You will be amazed to see not only how beautiful this country is but also the importance it has on religion and faith.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Things To Do In Vatican City
A. Yes, you can walk around Vatican City without any fee. Only the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel are charged for a visit but rest all museums are absolutely free.
A. One of the free things to do in Vatican City is to visit St Peter’s Basilica. However, a few parts of this place are charged.
A. No, one cannot capture a picture in the Sistine Chapel.