Ranked with The Colosseum and The Roman Forum on the “must see” when in Rome list would be St. Peter’s Basilica and The Vatican. Confession, I apparently didn’t do my research on St. Peter’s Basilica and the fact that it was in this square that the Pope appears and masses of people flock to catch a glimpse of the Pope when he appears. I soon became aware of this fact when there were metal detectors surrounding the entire square, and there were huge television monitors scattered around. Unfortunately, Papa Francisco was out of town during our stay, or else we would have tried to catch a glimpse of him.
Anyways, both St. Peter’s and The Vatican should be on anyone’s list when you visit Rome. St. Peter’s Basilica is free admission (but be prepared for massive lines). We showed up not realizing the line would be wrapped around the entire courtyard. Rather than wait in line in the intense heat, we returned the next morning right when the church opened, and pretty much walked right in. Please admire the incredible ceilings in these pictures. I mean, WOW. They are amazing!
We also were able to visit The Vatican Museum. I would definitely recommend going here, however, as my friends and I are not Catholic, many of the relics, while interesting to see, had no huge significance to us. However, we were excited to see Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. What an incredible room. Our whole way through the Vatican we felt like we were cattle being herded toward the general direction of the Sistine Chapel. Once we got there, it was simply amazing. I had pictured it to be larger than it was, but it is nevertheless, simply amazing. Looking at the painted walls and ceiling… I can’t imagine how someone could possibly paint such a thing. Unfortunately, there are no photos allowed, and they are very strict about enforcing this. I saw at least 10 people kicked out of the Sistine Chapel for taking pictures inside. There is limited seating along the walls, but if you aren’t sitting, they continue to herd you like cattle to fill in any nook and cranny so that more and more people can cram inside. We hugged the wall and stalked some people until we could sit down. We weren’t about to be rushed out of the Sistine Chapel. Here are some pictures from inside The Vatican Museum.
I didn’t get many pictures inside, I suppose because of the rush and crowds leading up to the Sistine Chapel. After seeing the chapel, the crowds thinned immensely and we finished up the museum. Note: if visiting The Vatican Museum. Buy your tickets in advance. We didn’t purchase ours prior to arrival, and we waited over an hour in line to buy tickets. It was hot and miserable, and took away time that we could have spent exploring other parts of Rome. I believe if you buy tickets in advance, you are given specific entry times. They try to stagger entry times to help reduce crowds. Like with St. Peter’s, if you can pick an early entry time, I would imagine there would be fewer crowds than later in the day.