Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rome (4/5) - Vatican City, the Papal kingdom

If Rome is the last city that you should visit, then Vatican is the last place you should visit in Rome.

When I was little, I was obsessed about finding countries that is smaller than Singapore, which is a mere 704.0 km² and ranked at 190th in terms of size. So Vatican City never failed to intrigue me. With a minuscule area of just 0.44 km², you cannot even complete the standard 2.4 km run along its perimeter!.

As I starting to know more about this tiny state, I began to realised that its influence spread far beyond its borders. With 1 billion Catholics in the world, some say that the Pope has the largest standing army in the world. The traditional personal army of the Pope, however, is the Swiss Guard (pictured above) and somehow they still look smart despite their seemingly ridiculous uniforms.

As the Roma Pass doesn't cover Vatican City, you'll have to join the queue, which can extend as long as 2km plus! But our experience told us that the queue moves pretty fast and it should take you more than 30min to get to the front.

Do beware of pickpockets while queuing. There were two women, one of whom seemed to be carrying a baby. While begging for change, they brushed pass us and HP (who was there with us) found her wallet and camera missing thereafter. After making a huge commotion, the women quickly dropped those items on the ground and pleaded ignorance.

Vatican Museums, which houses Sistine Chapel, is made up of collections that the popes amassed during their time in office over the centuries. From Egyptians mummies (I have no idea why people have this morbid interests photographing mummies, but I joined them anyway) to Greek bronze, from the likes of Michelangelo to Raphael, from sculptures of Roman gods to Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, this monstrous museum have it all. Now you know where the 0.44 km² goes to...

As if it's not torturous enough, there're numerous signs pointing towards "Sistine Chapel" along the way. Their sole main purpose it to prod the overwhelmed visitors towards that final checkpoint and chiding them for lingering too long.

After 3hrs, I finally stumbled into the famed Sistine Chapel. It was well... kind of ordinary after having my expectations drummed up along the entire route. Kind of shame that photography wasn't allowed in the Chapel. But there're numerous shops along the way capitalising on The Last Judgement.

Now, if Vatican City is the last place in Rome that you should visit, then St. Peter's Basilica is the absolute last place that you should visit in the Vatican City.

The massive exterior didn't prepare me for the absolutely stunning interior. I was joking with K that I was nearly converted the moment I stepped into the Basilica. It's easily the most impressive man made structure that I've come across. In fact, any words that I use to describe it would probably understate its inspiring architecture.

While you're there, do go up to the top of the dome, the astounding 360 degrees view is well worth the 7 euros and tiring climb up.


Why not read these as well?
Rome (1/5) - the capital of the civilized world
Rome (2/5) - Colosseum and the Old Rome
Rome (3/5) - Pantheon (the grand old Dame)
Rome (5/5) - Final words...

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17 comments:

Michael Aulia said...

Nice photos! I always want to see Rome.. (love Roman's architecture)

C K said...

Thanks! But if you do, try picking up some common Italian phrases. It'll help quite a great deal.

My Bug Life said...

wonderful post! the mummy's scary tho...:)

eastcoastlife said...

Oh... you can take pictures of the Mummy! Here in Singapore, many museums don't allow photography. :(

C K said...

@my bug life,
I thought so as well (about the mummy), was abit freaked out when I took the pic. But hey, it's not like we get to see a mummy every day... ok, that's morbid...

C K said...

@ecl,
Haha, over in Vatican, other than Sistine Chapel, the cameras' flashes are going on like nobody's business!

Anonymous said...

somehow you just feel holy once you step into the chapel, don't you? Just a tip, don't visit Vatican City during Sunday!! I missed Sistine Chapel. But , got myself a Vatican City Guide book and promised to go back again! Mei.

lina said...

the mummy sure look scary.
such a long queue! Lucky it was a pretty short wait for you guys.
and lucky you guys got back(right?) the wallet and camera. What sort of commotion did she make? :D

C K said...

@mei,
We wanted to get the book but got the DVD instead, thinking that we'll be more likely to watch the DVD then to read the book...

The DVD is still lying there on the sofa... unwatched.

C K said...

@lina,
Well, my friend refused to move along the queue once she realised that her stuff was stolen... after awhile, those queuing up got frustrated and started to grumble quite abit...

I think the pickpocket didn't want the unwanted attention...

Ah 9 said...

Thanks for you comment. :)

Jasmine Shanea said...

Wow Rome looks pretty. I'm always hesitant to go to Europe cos I hate being at a loss for words cos I don't understand anything but English. Thanks for showing me Rome from the comfort of my humid bedroom. :) Very pretty.

waitingkitty said...

Just came back from visiting Rome and Vatican City on 3rd May, my 2nd visit after 17 years...
Honestly, I was much more impressed the last time. I don't really know why but I guess I won't go back again even though I had thrown a coin into the Trevi Fountain. It's getting too crowded for me.

C K said...

@waitingkitty,
Maybe we all have higher expectations when we visit a place the second time round. That's of course if we enjoy the place when we first visit it.

Hah, I couldn't even squeeze up front to the fountain much less throw any coin in.

kyh said...

FYI, Vatican City is has the highest crime rate in the world, due to its out-of-proportion tourists who throng to the state each day relative to its miniscule size.

Oh yes, even when I saw the interiors of St Peter's Basilica on books or TV, I knew it's got the most spectacular interior of any Christian building ever!

BTW, are you using a Sony Ericsson phone to capture those pics? Cos the last pic seems to be captured using the panaroma mode only available on SE fons. Or maybe a Sony cam? Heh.

C K said...

@jasmine shanea,
Most (... I say 'most') Europeans are rather obliging if you know English. But it's only polite if we know at least how to say 'hello', 'goodbye' and 'thanks' in the local language.

And you're welcome!

C K said...

@kyh,
Eh? I used my Olympus camera for the photos. My Nokia, with its 2 MP camera is not exactly suitable for such shots.

Haha, anyway, the last picture was painstakenly stitched together (using Adobe PS) using three photos thus the poor quality.

Am not surprised by the high crime rates just taken aback by the audacity of some pickpockets. :0