The best things to see and do in the Vatican Museums
One of the things I love the most about the Vatican is that it is something different to everyone. I guess you could say that about most things, however, the Vatican has a certain aura around it that just makes it stand out. That aura is physically represented by the wall of buildings surrounding it. The first word that comes to mind when thinking of the Vatican is overwhelming. People come from every corner of the world to visit this place! Merely thinking about the long lines makes me want to take a seat (although you can now visit the Vatican without the crowds due to covid-19 restrictions). Sometimes it seems like there is never an off day; from Sunday mass to weekly Papal appearances, there is always something drawing people to this 108-acre country. But why? This is what I mean when I say that it is something different for everyone.
For many Catholics it is a historical pilgrimage site and a place to pay homage to and learn about the Catholic faith. For many tourists it is simply a must-see, can you imagine coming to Rome and NOT seeing the Vatican, I mean come-on, the Pope lives there! For art enthusiasts, like myself, it is a place to admire some of the greatest art of the lifetimes before and after ours. For history, architecture, and religious buffs, need I explain. It is even a place of interest for avid fiction readers who are curious about all the secrets hidden within the walls.
With all that being said I guess it makes sense why many of us make the trek. But what do you actually get when visiting the Vatican, you may ask, well, that’s just the cherry on top of the cake. Although we all have our different reasons for visiting the Vatican, what it gives us is far better than anything we could hope for. For lack of a better term, the Vatican Museums are truly, awe-striking. Let’s begin with what many of us think of first, The Sistine Chapel.
The Sistine Chapel is like a bicycle wrapped up in gift wrapping, you know what it is but when you unwrap it and actually see it you’re shocked. Well… at least if you wanted a bike. Nevertheless, many of us have seen pictures of the Sistine Chapel so in theory we know what it looks like, but when you see it in its entirety and vividness… WOW. As much as I could try, and fail, to explain each of its intricate elements to you, I have learned that it is so much better to see it and analyze it with your own eyes. The painting itself is a journey and searching for each element and story is both an exciting and essential part of the experience.
As a lover of gardens and all that’s floral, my favorite part of the Vatican Museums are the Vatican Courtyards. Even among the hustle and bustle of tourists coming in and out, I still find solace sitting on a bench and taking it all in. Often when you go to a museum, the museum is the sole attraction, but with the Vatican everything seems breathtaking.
Lastly, my final favorite attraction in the Vatican Museums (forgive me you other magnificent masterpieces, you are just as grand), is the Gallery of Maps, representing the Italian Regions and the papal properties. Get ready to spend a lot of time staring up at the ceiling, not just in this walkway. These 40 maps beautifully frescoed onto the walls are sure to take your breath away.
Honestly, it pains me to pick any favorites because the Vatican in it’s entirety is truly a breathtaking work of art. So, whether you come just because you love the pope or because you love Michelangelo, the Vatican Museums, although touristy, are definitely worth it.
Monday – Saturday: 8.30am – 6.30pm (last entry at 4.30pm)
*for the time bing, extraordinary openings on the last Sunday of the month are suspended
Entry fee: €17