For those who aren’t religious, you may wonder why you should visit the Vatican when on a city break in Rome, Italy. However, there are so many reasons to visit! It is no surprise that Vatican tours are on a lot of people’s bucket lists - and here are some of the best reasons why…
Of course, religion is a huge part of it. The Vatican is the heart of the Catholic Church and serves as a pilgrimage spot for many Catholics and Christians; visit on a Wednesday and you can see the Pope’s general audience to the masses or catch his weekly Sunday blessing. St Peter’s Square, containing 284 columns and 88 pillars, symbolizes the gathering of Christianity, which makes it a really important part of religious history.
If you really want to cement or celebrate your faith, a Vatican tour is a great way to do just that! It is also a great way to learn about Catholicism, even if it’s not a huge part of your own life.
2. Art and Architecture
The Vatican isn’t just for those looking to honor their religious beliefs. It is also somewhat of a pilgrimage, in a sense, for art lovers and architecture fanatics alike. There is so much art to be seen throughout the Vatican City; tours will show you the best of the best including The Sistine Chapel (the frescoed ceiling by Michelangelo is probably one of the most famous artworks in the world), Caravaggio’s ‘The Entombment of Christ’, and Leonardo’s ‘St Jerome in the Wilderness’, which is unfinished. Of course, those are big names in the art world - so having the chance to see so many of them in the same place is a big reason to visit the Vatican.
And for those who love architecture, tours of the Vatican will leave you awe-inspired. The Vatican City is striking, and it was mostly built in Renaissance style - but there are also examples Baroque and Late Renaissance architecture to be seen within this walled enclave.
St Peter’s Basilica alone took over 120 years to build and is one of the largest churches in the world; the square, with its columns and pillars and ancient Egyptian obelisk, is a wonder to behold. The whole of the Vatican is an incredible feat of human achievement!
History lovers will delight in the Vatican, too. These unique museums hold so much history that goes way beyond what is on display there today. The name ‘Vatican’ was being used as early as the time of the Roman Republic, and the area was apparently considered sacred long before the arrival of Christianity.
There is plenty of ancient history to think about and appreciate when visiting the Vatican, as well as more modern history such as Rome being annexed, and church property being confiscated in the 1800s. This was followed by the Lateran treaties in 1929, and then the Vatican’s involvement in World War II.
If you love to learn and soak up information, then a Vatican museum tour is for you. The Vatican museums are spread across 1400 rooms and contain artifacts and artwork from over 3000 years. Must-see parts of the Vatican museums include the Gallery of the Maps (the ceiling is heavily decorated, and there are 40 stunning maps lining the walls), all of the art from artists such as Giotto, Raphael and more, and the Gregorian Egyptian Museum which houses an incredible amount of antiquities.
The Vatican City is also a fantastic learning opportunity for children both young and older. It is a great way to expose them to art, architecture, history and religion all in one place. This means you can nurture their interests and help them understand how much there is to appreciate about the world we live in.
5. Peace and Quiet
It may come as a surprise, given that the Vatican sees millions of tourists pass through its doors every year, but it is a part of Rome where you can find some peace and quiet if need be. If you have spent your time in the city surrounded by crowds, or spending time in busy bars, then you might be happy to know that the Vatican gardens are usually fairly calm.
At 23 hectares, the gardens cover half of the entire Vatican City; they are home to fountains, a cactus garden, incredible views of St Peter’s Dome and also some important holy sites that you might not see otherwise - such as a replica of the Lourdes Grotto in France.
6. Another Country
Visiting the Vatican City allows you to tick another country off your list. For keen travelers, entering the Vatican while on a trip to Rome gives you the chance to add another country to your ‘been there’ list without having to spend too much money or travel even further! It is the smallest country in the world at just 44 hectares and was established in 1929. The Vatican has a population of around 1,000 as well as its own army, known as the Swiss Guard. Nobody has ever been born in the Vatican City, and the country’s economy is supported by the sale of souvenirs, stamps, publications and admission fees.
So, as you can see, there are so many reasons to visit the Vatican City. If you’re in Rome, it really is one of the most interesting and exciting things you can do. Join us on one of our best Vatican tours, with skip the line entry, so you can spend less time waiting and more time exploring!
It is a truly unique part of the world, with so much historic, artistic and religious significance that really cannot be missed. Whether you want to wander through the peaceful Vatican gardens or embark on a Sistine Chapel tour, you certainly won’t be disappointed by your trip to the world’s smallest country.