A Trip to the Vatican and San Pietro Cathedral – 09/2017
Arriving at San Pietro Square
On our last trip to the Vatican, we arrived in the evening and were disappointed to find the Cathedral already closed. Determined not to make the same mistake again, this time we arrived early in the morning at San Pietro Square to ensure we could enter the Cathedral.
The Wait in Line
Despite already seeing a long line of people waiting to enter the Cathedral, we decided to wait anyway, determined to get inside. While waiting in line, we struck up a conversation with some of the other people there, hearing interesting stories about why they wanted to see the Cathedral.
Entering the Cathedral
After an hour of waiting, we finally got inside, and it was worth the wait. The beauty of the Cathedral was truly stunning. The intricate details of the architecture, majestic pillars, and beautiful stained-glass windows left us in awe. The peaceful and spiritual atmosphere inside was captivating, making it hard to leave.
Learning About the Cathedral’s History
We were grateful for the opportunity to experience the Cathedral’s beauty and learn about its history. The art and architecture, as well as the symbolism behind each detail, fascinated us.
Exploring San Pietro Square
After visiting the Cathedral, we decided to take a walk around San Pietro Square. The bustling square was filled with people from all over the world, coming together to admire the beauty of the Vatican. It was amazing to witness the way people from different cultures and backgrounds could appreciate the same thing.
1. St. Peter’s Basilica, or Basilica di San Pietro, is the largest Catholic cathedral in the world. The very first basilica on this site was built back in 326 AD. In the early 16th century, it was decided to rebuild the cathedral, and in 1546, the work was entrusted to Michelangelo Buonarroti, who gave the cathedral its modern appearance. The final construction was not completed until 1626. Several generations of great Italian masters, including Bramante, Raphael, Bernini, and Maderna, were involved in the construction and design of the cathedral, in addition to Michelangelo.
2. After waiting in a huge queue and passing through all the turnstiles (by the way, it was Sunday and the entrance was free), there was a fear that the interior would be too crowded to move around. However, it turned out to be more or less tolerable.
3. Saint Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) is a magnificent open space located in Vatican City, and it’s one of the largest and most famous squares in the world. In the center of the square stands an Egyptian obelisk from ancient Heliopolis, which adds to the square’s unique character and charm. The obelisk is a towering structure covered in hieroglyphs that tell stories of ancient Egypt, and it serves as a reminder of the rich history and culture that surrounds this remarkable place.
4. Upon entering the cathedral, I was immediately struck by its grandeur and beauty. The interior is simply breathtaking, with soaring ceilings, stunning artwork, and intricate details that are truly awe-inspiring. The vast expanse of the cathedral can be overwhelming, but I was able to appreciate the intricate details of each and every chapel and monument within it. The altar is a sight to behold, with its ornate decoration and the impressive baldachin designed by Bernini. As I explored the cathedral, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of reverence and awe, knowing that I was standing in one of the most important religious sites in the world.
5. One of the most impressive features of Saint Peter’s Basilica is its iconic dome. The dome was designed by the architects Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana, and it serves as a striking symbol of the cathedral’s grandeur and magnificence. The dome is over 130 meters tall and is crowned by a lantern that provides natural light to the interior of the cathedral. As I gazed up at the dome, I couldn’t help but marvel at the skill and ingenuity of the architects who were able to create such a magnificent structure without the aid of modern technology. The dome is a true masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and a testament to the enduring legacy of this remarkable building.
6. The magnificent baldachin or canopy that stands over the tomb of Saint Peter is another awe-inspiring feature of the basilica. This ornate structure was designed by the famous Italian architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini and was completed between 1624 and 1633. The baldachin is over 20 meters tall and is made of bronze that was recycled from ancient Roman structures. Its spiral columns and intricate decorations make it a true masterpiece of Baroque art.
7. The nave of the basilica is an awe-inspiring sight. It stretches for 211 meters, making it one of the largest in the world, and is adorned with impressive works of art and intricate details. The coffered ceiling, created by Giuliano da Sangallo, is a masterpiece in itself, featuring ornate carvings and gilded moldings. The nave is also home to several chapels, each with its own unique artwork and history.
8. As if all this beauty wasn’t enough, there’s one more option that will take your impressions of the Vatican, the Basilica, and Rome itself to new heights – literally. That option is the opportunity to climb up to the roof of the basilica, which is exactly what we did. We started by taking the elevator, and then we had to climb the narrow and steep steps on foot.
But let me tell you, the view from up there is truly breathtaking. You can see the whole Piazza San Pietro stretched out before you, with its obelisk and fountains, and the panoramic view of Rome beyond it. You can also get up close and personal with the elaborate details of the dome and the sculptures that adorn it. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Swiss Guard marching across the rooftop.
It’s not for the faint of heart, though – the climb can be quite strenuous, and if you’re afraid of heights, you might want to give it a miss. But if you’re up for the challenge, I highly recommend it. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
9. Climbing the narrow and steep steps of the roof of the basilica is not an easy feat, and it can make your head spin a little. But the effort is well worth it once you reach the top and witness the breathtaking views of the Vatican City and Rome.
10. The difficulties are more than compensated for by the breathtaking views of the city(-ies) from the top.
11. In the distance, the monument to Victor Emmanuel II on Piazza Venezia shines white.
12. Italy is known for its beautiful architecture and rich history, but one aspect of Italian urban design that often surprises visitors is the density of buildings. Italian cities are famous for their narrow streets, tightly-packed buildings, and bustling pedestrian activity.
13. The small domes of the basilica are also a sight to behold.
14. The inner courtyards of the Vatican are a true oasis of peace and tranquility amidst the bustling city. These green spaces are adorned with fountains, statues, and lush greenery, creating a serene atmosphere where visitors can take a moment to relax and reflect. The courtyards are also home to many impressive architectural features, such as the famous Bramante Staircase, which is a masterpiece of Renaissance design.
15. As we emerge on the roof of the basilica, the breathtaking views of Rome stretch out before us. From here, we can see the city’s ancient ruins, winding streets, and charming neighborhoods. The bright sun warms our faces as we take in the panoramic views, feeling a sense of awe and wonder. The towering dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and the statues atop the colonnade seem small from up here, but the details are clear, and the beauty is undeniable. This is truly a unique and unforgettable experience.
16. Standing on the rooftop of the basilica, one can approach almost to the very cornice where six-meter-tall statues of Christ, John the Baptist, and 11 apostles (excluding Peter) are located.
R. Indeed, despite being the smallest state in the world, the Vatican never fails to leave a lasting impression on its visitors. From the stunning artwork and architecture inside St. Peter’s Basilica, to the breathtaking views from the rooftop, the Vatican is a testament to the beauty and grandeur of human creativity and devotion. It’s a place where history, religion, and art come together in a unique and unforgettable way, leaving a deep impression on those who have the chance to experience it.