When I decided to take on the challenge of visiting 30 countries before I turned 30, I began counting off the number of countries I had already visited just so I would know how many I had left. I had not been to Italy at the time and when I did visit Italy and subsequently the Vatican City, I counted them both as one country. LOL.
The Vatican City is actually one of the smallest countries in the world with a population of about 1,000 people and the Pope as the Head of Government. It is the Head Quarters of the Roman Catholic Church.
If you’re looking for a treasure trove of art in Europe, you have absolutely got to check out the Vatican City. There are a total of 54 museums located within the Vatican with the Sistine Chapel sitting proudly at the peak. The museums rank among the top 10 museums and galleries in the world.
On the day of my visit, I walked around for over 4 hours and still did not get to see all of the museums. But those were the most beautiful 4 hours of my life. From sculptures to paintings and tapestries and Egyptian Mummies, I saw sights for days.
To get into the Vatican Museums, there is usually a ridiculously long queue and you can stand in that queue for hours (or less than an hour if you’re lucky) before you’re finally able to purchase a ticket and get in. The alternative would be to purchase a ticket online and skip the queue. But here’s what I realised on getting there that morning with my cousins- there’s also a queue for those who have got tickets to skip the queue! LOL. It’s a much shorter queue actually so I guess it could be worth it. Of course as you expect, the online tickets are a lot more expensive than the offline ones.
The Vatican itself is a marvellous piece of architecture. You’ve got to give it to Europe though. When it comes to architectural structures, they will give you a good run for your money.
From the ground floor, there are collections from all over the world and walking through all the floors, your eyes will be blissfully entertained with paintings from the walls to the ceilings.
The paintings on the ceilings fascinated me the most. Like how on earth did the artists get them done? Michelangelo and Raphael have my eternal respects for real.
The tapestries stole my heart! They were woven so delicately, they could pass for paintings. Each one depicted either a Bible story or something from ancient Roman History. For instance, there was a tapestry on the murder of Julius Caesar, another of Jesus rising from the dead, the killing of all male children at Herod’s instance and lots more.
In the Sistine Chapel, the entire ceiling is covered by Michelangelo’s paintings which took him about 4 years to complete. Cameras were not allowed in there so I have no pictures but it literally felt like being in art heaven and I still cannot wrap my head around how he was able to get it done. Some of the paintings in there were familiar however. For instance, the one in which Eve plucked a fruit from the forbidden tree.
As earlier mentioned, there were collections from all over the world. One of the most exciting things for me was seeing an actual Egyptian Mummy and reading about the funeral rites and rituals observed in Egypt at the time. It was fascinating to learn that internal organs were usually separated from the corpse and stored in canopic jars while the embalming process took place. Burying bodies whole? For what? Hehe
There were also tons of sculptures. All the famous Greek gods and legends were represented- Hercules, Artemis, the river god Arno amongst others. Some of the sculptures were familiar, others weren’t. But if you have ever read or watched anything on Greek mythology, you’d be sure to see a familiar face or two.
After the museums, we checked out St. Peter’s Basilica where I turned a few cartwheels because… LOL. I mean, we were in this massive open space with an unending queue to get in so we didn’t bother. St. Peter’s Basilica is reportedly the largest church in the world and is believed to be the burial site of Saint Peter. The church is the Pope’s principal church and a great number of masses and liturgies are celebrated there throughout the year.
So yeah, the Vatican City was a wonderful experience. Honestly, it wasn’t even just for the art alone. It did feel like being on a mini pilgrimage at some points. I am Christian (not Catholic) so there were moments of personal reflection for my faith. But whether you go there for the art or for religious purposes, the Vatican Museums are definitely a must see if you can afford it.
Ps. Kindly let me know in the comments whether or not you knew the Vatican City was a country before now. Let me know I am not alone abeg. LOL.
Love and Light,