The Vatican Museum
& The
Basilica of St. Peter


On Monday morning, after a good nights sleep at the Hotel Albani, we were ready to take on Rome. We had a very good breakfast of bacon and eggs, and then several of us walked about two blocks from the hotel to find an ATM machine where we were able to use our bank cards to get Italian currency at a good rate and with very limited charges. Because the hotel was in a location that was almost impossible for a bus to approach or park, we were forced to walk each day about two blocks from the hotel to a busy street to load or unload our bus.

We made it just fine, and eventually made it to the parking lot of the Vatican Museum where we first met our Roman guide, Fedora. She was very knowledgeable and friendly, but not of the quality that we had grown accustomed with Shep. He had been truly amazing.


The Vatican

The Vatican is the smallest state in the world. The entire country comprises only 108.6 acres. The Vatican is fully enclosed within walls that were completed between 1540 and 1640. It is located very close to the Tiber River very near Rome's historic center. It's name comes from the Vatican Hill dating back to the 5th century B.C.

We began our tour in the Courtyard of the Pine Cone (photo above). All of the buildings that today make up the museums were at one time or another the apartments of the popes. Today, the museums of the Vatican comprise one of the most valuable collections of art in the entire world. We toured a number of rooms and hallways and saw many wonderful masterpieces. However, I captured very few photographs. The photo below was of the ceiling of a very long hallway. Our guide pointed out that even though the art work on the ceiling appeared to show at least several inches of relief, it was actually, a totally flat painting. The other photograph is of the beautiful "Sphere within Sphere" by Arnaldo Pomodoro commissioned by the Vatican in 1990.

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is the Pope's private chapel. It is also the place where the Cardinals gather after the death of a pope to select the next pope. The ceiling was painted by Michelangelo under contract by Pope Julius II in 1508 and was completed on November 1, 1512. It tells the entire story of Genesis and focuses on the Creation of Adam in its center. The front wall of the chapel features Michelangelo's - Last Judgment.


The Basilica of St. Peter

Christ ordered Peter to guide the Church throughout history. As a result, Peter came to Rome in about 42 A.D. Then sometime between 64-67 A.D., at the height of of the anti-Christian persecutions, Saint Peter was martyred (crucified upside down) in Nero's Circus at the foot of Vatican Hill. His body was entombed in a nearby burial ground. Peter's tomb is the reason for all that exists in the Vatican to this day.


In about 160 A.D., a red wall was built next to the sepulchre to identify the tomb of the apostle. In around 322 A.D., about 10 years after the famous edict that granted religious freedom to the Christians, a great basilica was begun by Constantine to venerate Peter's tomb. In the first centuries after Christ, Constantine's basilica was a combination temple and mausoleum dedicated to Peter. Near the end of the 6th century, St. Gregory the Great called for the construction of a permanent altar. In 1120, Calixtus II created a second altar above that of Gregory. Eventually, a new basilica replaced the original basilica. The current basilica was built between 1506 and 1616 under eighteen different popes from Julius II to Paul V. Donato Bramante was the original architect in 1506. Michelangelo made radical revisions in the middle of the 16th century and the basilica was dedicated on November 18, 1626 by Pope Urban VIII on the 1,300th anniversary of Constantine's original basilica. St. Peter's is 187 meters long, 114 meters wide, and 46 meters tall. The summit of the cross is 136 meters high.

Next to Peter's tomb, which lies directly beneath the altar of St. Peter's, repose the remains of 147 popes including all of those who have led the Church in this century.


Other Photographs



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