As I planned my trip to Rome, I was hoping to get some good photos from various vantage points in the city. The weather, although wintertime, cooperated with me and we didn’t experience rainy days, although we did have some clouds so my photos didn’t always have the blue skies and fluffy white clouds in the background that I like so much. But the sun was bright when it was out and that usually worked to my advantage. Timing being everything with the sun, there were some things I purposely planned in order to have the sun at the right angle for my photos. Fortunately, there are so many great places to get photos in Rome, no matter where you are in the city you have opportunities for good photos.
Some of my favorite places for photos:
~ At the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. Okay, it meant climbing up the steps to the top of the dome, but it was worth it! I took my zoom lens with me and thankfully it wasn’t too crowded so I had time to make adjustments as well as take enough photos for panoramic photos. We went around noon so the sun would be high in the sky, allowing me to take photos pretty much all the way around the top of the dome, both of St. Peter’s Square and Rome and its monuments, but also of the Vatican and its gardens.
~ For some good photos of the city from the other end, try the overlook near the Villa Medici looking towards St. Peter’s. These are best in the morning with the sun behind you – I was there at sunset and the sun was right over St. Peter’s and I wasn’t really pleased with the effect. Ideally, if I could do it again, I would be at the Villa Medici in the morning and at St. Peter’s in the evening for my sunrise/sunset photos.
~ Another location that I came across during my trip to Vatican City was the top of Castel St. Angelo (nice mid-way between the city and St. Peter’s). This is best in the morning if you want St. Peter’s photos and you have to pay the admission fee to get to the top. Also, from here you can get some nice photos of the Tiber and Ponte St. Angelo.
~ Of course, there are multiple places on the ground that great photos can be taken from, depending on if you want photos of people, artworks, buildings, or activity.
Just keep your eyes open! In this day of digital cameras, take lots of photos - you can always delete later, but it will cost you a whole lot of money to return to retake the photo you wished you had taken in the first place!
NOTE: Inside the Vatican Museum you are allowed to take photos (with the exception of the Sistine Chapel). Do not use a flash inside the museum - it really won't help your photos that much and many flashes over time will cause damage to the artworks. Be considerate of others around you and don't dominate the space trying to get that perfect shot - others want to take a photo as well.
Favorite thing: Although almost everyone goes to the Vatican to see the Pope or either St. Peter's itself or the Sistine Chapel and has to fight the crowds and go through the Museum to get there, we tend to forget that this little country has green spaces and other areas that are also worth a glance. Sometimes you can see parts of the buildings and parks while you are trudging through the museum. So don't forget to look out the window
This photo was taken of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City in March 2011 at sunset.. I was standing on the Via della Conciliazione, just outside the Vatican City boundary.
I took this photo because of something that Dan Brown wrote in "Angels & Demons". In that book, Mr. Brown had one of his characters stand facing St. Peter's in the afternoon, watching the light of the sun fall across the facade. I was quite startled to read this, since I and a billion other people know that St. Peter's faces DUE EAST. As you can see here, the sun sets BEHIND St. Peter's, and the afternoon sun has no chance of shining on the front of the building.
It's proof, in case you needed any, that even best-selling authors who have made a gazillion dollars still don't necessarily know where the sun goes up or comes down. ;-)
Please open in a separate window this official map of Vatican City: (click here -->)Vatican City map
1. St. Peter's Square is the roundish thing on the lower left.
2. Immediately above the "square" is the Basilica, known as "St. Peter's".
3. The entrance to the Vatican Museums is on the far right at #34. (#34A is the original entrance but is now an exit).
4. The Vatican Museums are in a number of buildings:
...a. Museo Gregoriano-Profano (#35)
...b. Pinacoteca (#36)
...c. Museo Gregoriano Egizio (the Egyptian Museum) (#29)
...d. Museo Gregoriano Etrusco (the Etruscan Museum) (#29)
...e. Museo Pio-Clementino (#30)
5. From the cluster of buildings near the entrance, the Museums then stretch to the west - see #27 and #20, and #25 and #21. The areas inbetween (#26, #18, etc.) are indeed open courtyards, and in good weather, the windows of the Museums are opened to see them.
6. If you follow this line again to the left, you will see the Sistine Chapel (#15), having passed over the line of courtyards at #14, #13, and #12 on an upper floor.
7. Normally, the exit from the Museums is out the other door of the Sistine Chapel. This leaves you in the alley along side the Basilica, near the Scala Regia (#3). You should expect to see the Sistine Chapel last in the Museums, as you are discouraged from turning around and trying to go back from the Chapel into the Museums.
8. On the other side of the Basilica, there is the Audience Hall (#86), where you go for the General Audiences (Wednesdays) in case of bad weather.
9. Just above the Audience Hall is the Domus Sanctae Martae (Saint Martha's House) (#77b), which is a hotel of sorts where all the cardinal electors will reside during the conclave.
10. To the right from #77b against the wall of the Basilica is the Ufficio Scavi (#81), which is the office where you enter for the tour of the necropolis under the Basilica.
11. To get to the Ufficio Scavi, enter at the Ingresso del Petriano (#90), which is blocked by wooden barricades and manned by two Swiss Guards on the inside and by an Italian policeman on the outside near the colonnade (see the photo). Tell the Swiss Guards that you want to go to the Ufficio Scavi (or show them your reservation letter, if you don't speak Italian or German), and you can walk in...don't walk anyplace else.
12. When you leave the Scavi tour, the guide may let you off in the grotto underneath the Basilica (this is the floor above the necropolis but below the ground floor of the Basilica). If the guide takes you back to the Ufficio Scavi, then you can exit through the Arco delle Campane (#88), an archway where you walk right past a Swiss Guard with the halberd always on guard.
Fondest memory: During the conclave, the Sistine Chapel will be closed (of course), it is possible that the Museums' traffic will be routed back to the exit at #34a, so that you'll find yourself back outside the Walls.
The cardinal-electors will be staying at the Domus Sanctae Martae, but voting in the Sistine Chapel, twice in the morning and twice in the evening. Thus, the cardinals will be going back and forth, I am guessing, by walking behind the Basilica from #77b via #72 (Largo S. Stefano degli Abissini), and #70 (Via delle Fondamenta) to the Sistine Chapel (#15). If this is the path they take, then access to the Ufficio Scavi may be halted, since the cardinal-electors - who aren't supposed to be speaking to any one - would be easily visible from the front door of the Ufficio Scavi.
In addition to the photos below, please see the Travelogue for more photos taken inside the Vatican where visitors normally can't go.
The Swiss guard of the Pope is one of the Vatican's highlights. I was expecting to see the usual performance of changing the guards like everywhere else in the world where the guards are photogenic, but couldn't get it. They were discreet, changing hourly in the few visible points, and the real performances are reserved for official ceremonies.
I just have to wait for a Pope's invitation and I will let you know.
Vatican is a country of contrasts - it is one of the smallest countries in the world, with one of the greatest churches. You can´t really have an idea of its size, until you decide to picture it.
- A suggestion to a Roman VTer: Try to install a crane in Via della Conciliazione, for instance, and I think that you may charge a few euros to thousands of tourists each day, just to go up and make a picture. NOTE - I don't need any kind of commissions, just an invitation to go up and make my missing picture.
Almost nobody who visits Rome as a tourist misses Vatican City which represents one of the most popular its attractions.
Vatican City is a walled enclave within the city of Rome and. It was established in 1929. Vatican City State is distinct from the Holy See, which dates back to early Christianity and is the main episcopal see of 1.2 billion Latin and Eastern Catholic adherents around the globe.
The name "Vatican" predates Christianity and comes from the Latin Mons Vaticanus, meaning Vatican Mount. The territory of Vatican City is part of the Mons Vaticanus, and of the adjacent former Vatican Fields. It is in this territory that St. Peter's Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel, and museums were built, along with various other buildings.
You can watch my 3 min 07 sec Video Rome Vatican Panorama from St Peter's Basilica out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Favorite thing: You are correct! The Sistine Chapel does not allow photography or videos, although you do see quick phone camera shots. Best bet to take in the Sistine Chapel is to get an audio recording of what you are looking at and grab a seat on the side when one becomes available. It is not very light in The Sistine Chapel and not easy to read guides. I saw a number of people trying to do this with little lights and they were struggling to see.
Favorite thing: The Vatican uses the euro as its currency. I was reading the Vatican Euro is much more rare than the euro coin from other countries,,,,,,so it is best to hold on to your Vatican euros if you come across them. Might be worth something if you are a coin collector.
If you look out the windows while you walk through the museums, you can see some interesting views of this smallest country.
If you have time (we didn't) you may want to look at the Gardens which are decorated with fountains and sculptures. They cover approximately 57 acres which is most of the Vatican Hill. Stone walls bound the area in the North, South and West.
The gardens date back to medieval times when Pope Nicholas III (1277–1280) moved his residence back to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace and enclosed this area with walls.
A tour of the Gardens allows the visitor to be part of a group tour conducted by an official Vatican Guide. (duration of the tour is approximately 2 hours)
Open working days, except Wednesday and Sunday.
Tariffs full € 31,00
The ticket includes: admission to the Museums (without guided tour), guided tour of the Gardens and rental of audio guides.
Flying within Europe is easy and convenient. Thank God for budget airlines. I flew from Barcelona to Rome, booked my ticket via www.vueling.com.
If you're lucky, you can get ticket on sale and pay a few Euros. However, make sure to travel light so you don't have to pay extra for checking in your luggage. Either that or pay luggage fees online because it'll save you a great deal than having to pay at the airport. Trust me, it hurt my pocket.
Anyway, find out more about flying on a budget in Europe: http://www.budgetairlineguide.com/budget-airlines-in-europe
Fondest memory: Sistine Chapel and the cobblestones of Vatican City. I felt like I was reliving a famous book as soon as I stepped into the Vatican. What an amazing experience!
Vatican City - in Italian Stato della Città del Vaticano - is the world's smallest coutry... 0.44 square kilometres large, landlocked by the city of Rome, and with a population of just over 800 inhabitants. And yet, I had always found this tiny state very fascinating - for a very special reason.
Of these over 800 inhabintants, only about 550 have Vatican citizenship and they are mostly clergymen... what caught my fancy as a child were the 100-ish Papal Swiss Guard, 18% of the total population but not citizens. Being Swiss I had always been proud (for no reason at all) of them and had admired their colourful uniform... and what a joy when i actually got to meet one in person, the son of family friends: I was 8 years old and thought for the first time that I had fallen in love; he was 20-something and had eyes only for my teenage cousin...
The area that would one day become Vatican City got its start in 324 A.D. when Emperor Constantine built a basilica over the tomb of Saint Peter on the outskirts of Rome. The basilica was rebuilt and added to over the centuries, resulting in today's Saint Peter's Basilica.
The Bishop of Rome (also called the Pope, and considered Christ's representative on earth) maintained his residence in apartments adjacent to Saint Peter's Basilica shortly after completion of the church. The Popes have resided there ever since.
The unification of Italy between 1820 and 1870 included the Papal States (land and estates belonging to the Roman Catholic Church); however, this caused a rift between church and state. In 1871, the new Italian parliament passed the Law of the Guarantee to show that it did not wish to subjugate the Papacy. The law further provided that the Pope was to retain Vatican City and receive an annual allowance from the Italian government. In 1929, the Lateran Treaty was signed by Benito Mussolini, representing the Italian government; and Cardinal Gaspari, representing the Holy See. This treaty recognized Vatican City as a sovereign state whose official name is the Holy See.
Nowadays, Vatican City is the world's smallest country, at 0.44 square mile (1.14 square kilometers). It also has the smallest population of any of the world's countries, with a little more than 800 Vatican administrators. The tiny country has its own post office, currency, radio station, train station, and army, consisting of the Swiss Guards.
A ticket to the Vatican museum costs € 15 (2010).
However, there are many exceptions, all well explained on this page of the Vatican Museum website.
One thing though I want to highlight: the free entry rules. According to the Vatican Museum website:
Free entrance: the last Sunday of every month, free entrance from 9 am to 12.30 am and on 27 September (being World Tourism Day).
See here for the full details of all other conditions under which entrance is free or discounted.
I've seen lots of people drinking from various fountains around the city and I didn't have a clue before that those were clean drinking water. So one time near the gates of the vatican city, I saw one tourist drinking on the water fountain with her hands, I took out my half full mineral water plastic bottle and filled it full.
I should have discovered it before, then I should have save few bucks buying several big bottles of mineral water from the convenient store every day and night.