Considered to be one of the world’s most important small, independent states, the Vatican City has quite an aura filled with curiosity to itself. It is located in the heart of the city of Rome and it is administered by the Catholic Church. Vatican City is, in fact, the official residence of Pope Francis, the pope of the Catholic Church.
The allure around this independent state is comprehensible as it is not accessible by the public, only by the residents and very few chosen pilgrims. Because of this, many people constantly wonder what life is like in Vatican City and what you will be able to find behind its tall walls.
Let’s find out some of the most beautiful hidden treasures of Vatican City!
The beginning of the Vatican’s history goes back to the IV century AD, when a basilica was built over St. Peter’s grave in Rome. This basilica gradually became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites and, when the Catholic Church moved back to Italy from France in 1377, with the edification of the Apostolic Palace and the creation of the Sistine Chapel, the Church was starting to talk about “city limits”. In 1929, the Lateran Pacts were signed, which led to the Vatican City becoming an independent state.
The Vatican City is commonly associated with St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel Tour and, as much as these are definitely worth visiting, which we highly suggest you do with a Best of the Vatican Tour, this is not all there is to this city. Here are some of the hidden gems you should look out for when going to visit what you can see in the Vatican City:
- PASSETTO DI BORGO:
Passetto di Borgo is a fascinating secret passageway that was used by the popes when a situation that would put them in danger happened. It pretty much was an escape route that goes from the Vatican to Castel Sant’Angelo and it was built in 1277. The last time it was used for the purpose of escaping was in 1527 and Passetto di Borgo is now open to visitors.
- THE VATICAN GARDENS:
The Vatican Gardens are a very fundamental element of the Vatican City as they take up almost half the space of the entire city. They are beautifully adorned with statues, monuments and fountains and they’re definitely worth visiting. The only way to visit the Vatican Gardens is to book a small group tour ticket in advance, find out more here.
- THE COLLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY ART:
Even though the Vatican is usually associated with Renaissance art and it doesn’t seem the right place to house some more contemporary art, there’s actually a contemporary art gallery that you can visit inside the Vatican City. This project was commissioned by Pope Paul VI and it houses over 8000 works of art. Some of these are by important artists like Van Gogh, Salvador Dalì, Matisse and many more!
- THE RAPHAEL ROOMS:
Even though the Raphael Rooms are just as beautiful as the Sistine Chapel, they usually tend to get overlooked by tourists. Skipping the Raphael Rooms is obviously a huge mistake, as they are filled with frescoes painted by the infamous Raffaello Sanzio who unfortunately never got to complete this room, as he died in 1520. An interesting aspect about these rooms is that they used to be a part of the apartments of the pope where Pope Julius II lived.
- THE BRAMANTE STAIRCASE:
The Bramante Staircase is a hidden gem that is gradually becoming more popular amongst tourists thanks to social media. Something that not many people know though is that there are actually two versions of the Bramante Staircase; an original one and a copy. The one that most people get to visit is obviously the latter one, often referred to as the Modern Bramante Staircase. It was created in 1932 and it is accessible after a visit to the Vatican Museum, which ends with walking down the Bramante Staircase. If you want to get to know more, book a guided tour of the Vatican Museums for yourself now, it’s definitely worth it!
The other staircase was built in 1505 and you can only visit it with a tour of the Hidden Museums.
The Vatican City is filled with infinite beauty that should never be overlooked. If you’re thinking of visiting this magical city, we highly suggest you book a private tour of the Vatican for an immersive experience that will leave you filled with valuable information about the art you will be seeing. Check out our other blogs if you want to know more!