I would like to share with you my memories of the time I visited Vatican.
Numbers and Statistic:
First I would like to mention some figures and numbers and my view point on it. This was my second time visiting Vatican, but it is definitely worth visiting many times.
Vatican is the smallest country in the world. Smallest – but with the biggest church in the world. Well – the Pope lives there, maybe that is normal proportion.
Few casual things – our tour guide told us. If you are citizen there – you do not pay taxes. And if you want to go there – not in the museums, but walk on the street and shop, or put petrol in the only petrol station they have – you need to be invited by a citizen. You will receive a different roaming message, as if you left Italy and went in a different country.
The Vatican museum do not work on Sunday. As the usual practice is the museums to work on Sundays and to be closed on Monday – here is opposite – day off on Sunday and work on Monday. I would highly recommend to restrict from visiting on Monday. It is very busy and crowded. Because all the museums /most/ in Rome are closed – so people use to come to Vatican Museums as they are open. We were next to each other – river of people. No problem – but if you prefer to spend 4 or more hours with not many people half a meter around you – you can choose and plan Tuesday to Friday visit. If you want to see the Pope – he comes out and meets the crowd on Wednesday. So lets dive into the art and history.
The travel in time:
I call it travelling in time, as for the almost 4 hours spent there we just managed to dip in the high lights of so much history /or maybe can say run through so much history/ that is best to go into the time and feel as a part of it. Of course you may see it from many different view points – I would just share with you my view point.
So imagine – you live few centuries back – when there was no electricity, cars, and modern technologies as we know it. So someone /or institution/ decides to build a church.... huge church, the biggest church. He have/ gets the money. /Mind you – no kick-starter and Paypal at that time/. Find and calls the best architects known. Also the best painters. They come, make a plan, gather the materials, start working. It took many years to built it. When you walk through it and see all the art, the walls, the amazing marble columns /some brought from Egypt – without modern trucks and cranes/ you can see something huge – but as you have seen so many movies – nothing can surprise you. But if we take a travel in time and see it as a person from that time – for me is even a bit scary.
St. Peter's Basilica
It is huge work, all the transportation, construction, engineering /without computers!/ Michelangelo painted for 4 years the Sistine Chapel sealing. Laying up there, with candle lights, sleeping and eating in the same place. No optical instruments to see the perspectives of the person down, who will look up to these more than 20 m. I am amazed by the results. The Saint Peter Basilica is so huge, but inside I did not feel suppressed /as in some other cathedrals I did feel/. It is full of colour, actually many colours, and it is planed with attention to a detail. For example the window glass behind the priest and how the sun goes through at the time of the mess. Of course it is huge, you lose perspective – but our tour guide just pointed to us that the letters near the top of the walls are hight 2 meters. You can see on the pictures, but it is like we were ants there.
Sistine Chapel is amazing, but as so many people want to see it – you have to move there very quick. Taking pictures is not allowed inside. Our guide told us about the history – before we enter – and gave us some very good tips. When you enter there are two guards /or more/ who say loudly to move forward. So please go to the middle and than turn back to look at the ceiling from where you entered. This is where Michelangelo started.
So see shortly the beginning and than go forward towards the end of the chapel, than try to stop there for 5-8 min, maybe max 10 – but after they will ask you to move. Also the ventilation is quite difficult there. So from that end – is best to look up for the rest of the ceiling, exactly in the order Michelangelo painted it, starting from where you entered and ending – where you will leave. Than you have the best view of the most famous picture – the creation of man. It is so high, if you try to look at it from underneath (in the middle of the chapel) – you get pain in the neck very quickly. Just a suggestion.
I like the painting of Michelangelo, also of Raphael. I did not like how they did not stand each other, or maybe just avoided each other. When genius complete each other, instead of compete, so much more could be accomplished. But – again – this is just my view point. Another thing I was kind of stunned , maybe more in a scary way, was with all that blood and killing and hatred and power revenge. My imagination is very imaginative, and already felt bad with beheading and crucifixion up-side down, but when we reached the one who was taken off his skin – alive, I almost fainted. And there is painting of him. Plus many more torturing paintings of the hell. But maybe you are not so sensitive as me – and maybe you even enjoy “The Silence of the Lamb” and all the new versions of thrillers – than that will not bother you. My son took it perfectly fine!
I think one day is not enough to see all the collections that all the Pope's gathered there. We were walking all the time – maybe stopped for 3 min in front of the Raphael's painting and 10 min in the Sistine chapel – and the rest of the 3 and half hours we were moving with the flow. I would again recommend that you take a tour guide, unless you are very familiar with what you want to see – and where it is. Out guide / from the “Walks of Italy”/ showed us few places where were wonderful arts, but skip them in order to see Michelangelo, Raphael and others. I would recommend you visit once with tour and come again another time – if you have particular interest in some master art – just to enjoy that. There were many wonderful painting showing 3-dimensional perspective. For us is so usual, but consider it what time it was made – it was revolutionary! There was many master pieces presented to the Pope's. Even there is a Salvador Dali's painting – presented to one of the recent Popes.
So there is a lot to see. But on the few photos I choose here /out of the 400 I made/ you can see The entrance of Vatican – Michelangelo and Raphael; the parks of Vatican; statue which influenced the style of sculpturing and painting of Michelangelo and others; small part of big tapestry – all made by hand with very expensive materials; maps of whole Italy, specially made by order of the Pope centuries ago – without airplane and Google maps, made with such precision /I was amazed/; picture The School of Athens by Raphael – (look at the part that he drew himself – looking toward us- the tour guide said this is the first selfie, not taken by camera, but drawn by the author. He really wanted to be part of it); Michelangelo's Pieta – and me; the grave of Pope Joan Paul 2nd – he wished to be buried inside the church, actually each Pope can choose; picture from inside of the basilica – please look at the letters on the top – they are 2 meters long! ; and the Swiss guards in Vatican, very colorful, but normal solders. They have 2 years service and have to be tall above 174 cm, age 19-30 years old and bachelor.
So in conclusion Vatican tour was for me a travel in times which I would never want to live in. But I did enjoy the art, created in this time.
I wish you a good time there.