A visit to
would not be complete without a visit to Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica). A word of caution though, be extra extra early if you want to beat the queue. We didn't, and when we got there slightly after 9am, the queue had built up to easily 1km long (scenario as pictured below). We were hesitating whether to join one of the many guides touting "skip the line" tickets in order to maximize our time but decided against paying a bomb for them (admission to the basilica is free). Luckily the queue move quite quickly and we got in an about 45 minutes, I think. But I was quite pissed off with several queue jumpers – they pretended to know those who were queueing in front of us and simply squeezed their way in. And I'm pretty sure this didn't just happen to us! Geez! Rome
The photo is from here. I added the markings in red for illustration.
Anyway, the visit was definitely worth the wait. The basilica was jaw-dropping and more like a showcase of
's greatest artists – with impressive paintings and sculptures. Italy
We also visited the Treasury and Sacristy, which is filled with jewel-studded chalices, religious artifacts and
treasures. We then headed downstairs to the Vatican Vatican grottoes, with their tombs of the popes, both ancient and modern, including that of Pope John Paul XXIII.
Next to St. Peter's is the
, a separate state by itself though it's located within Vatican City 's boundaries. It was established in 1929 by an agreement between the pope and Benito Mussolini, acting as head of the Italian government. The pope is the sovereign of the State of Italy , which has its own legal system. Visitors are not allowed access into the Vatican City . Vatican City
|A glimpse of the Vatican city|
A short walk away are the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums) & the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel). These museums are reputed to be the richest in the world, and a full day or more is needed to visit all the highlights. We thought we'd just do a quickie with Sistine Chapel but the entrance ticket is sold as a package for visits to all the museums, and hence quite costly, and we can't just buy an individual ticket for Sistine Chapel. We decided to give it a miss since we couldn't afford the time. This will surely be my must-do list, if I ever get the chance to visit
We took a
After the sugar load, we walked a looonnngggg way to Castel Sant' Angelo. Built in the 2nd century, this imposing fortress was originally constructed as a tomb for Emperor Hadrian and his family. It functioned as a fortress during the Middle Ages, and was linked to the
by an underground passage as an escape route for the fleeing papacy. Vatican
We climbed up to the top terrace for dazzling views of the city.
Ponte Sant' Angelo, one of the most ancient bridges in
Rome spanning the River Tiber. The trio of arches in the river's center is basically unchanged since the bridge was built in the 2nd century.
Of all ancient
's great buildings, only the Pantheon (All the Gods) remains intact, making it the world's best-preserved ancient monument. It was built and rebuilt several times, and the present structure is the result of an early 2nd century A.D. reconstruction by the Emperor Hadrian. This 43m wide and 43m high (a perfect sphere resting in a cylinder) building was originally dedicated to all the gods, but was subsequently transformed into a church. It houses the tomb of the famous artist Raphael, who was buried here in 1520, and several Italian kings. Rome