So excited to have a very special guest travel writer today, Alexandra from Babcia and Yia Yia Travel The World.
You can’t turn a corner in Rome without running into some slice of history. It seems that whether you look high or low, the past greets you with one surprise after another. The eternal city is a travel icon for a reason. However, getting in to see every nook and cranny can take a little bit of strategy, especially when it comes to that shining star, The Vatican.
Whether or not you are part of the Catholic faith, this seat of the Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church has so much art, history, and culture to share. But how do you ensure that you see them all? Let’s look at the five tickets you should book before you visit the Vatican.
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Five Tickets To Secure Before You Visit The Vatican.
There is no denying that St. Peter’s Basilica is the finest church in Christendom. Within its literal borders, The Vatican has more priceless artwork per square foot than most art establishments in the world. As you can imagine, it’s a popular hot spot on the city’s grand tour. In fact, up to 20,000 people could file through each day to see marvels like the Laocoon and the Sistine Chapel. It can be very overwhelming!
With a little careful planning, you can enjoy the best the Vatican has to offer with a few clicks. First, do not buy any tickets from an outside source. They are inflating the price and are taking advantage of you. Instead, go straight to the source. In addition to getting a reservation at the museum and gardens, there are two other tickets worth looking into.
Shortcut: If you keep your eyes open in the Sistine Chapel, you can exit through the group tours entrance. Follow the path, and you will find yourself in the most amazing side courtyard with a little shop, access to the crypt, and the dome and you can skip the security line to get into the main sanctuary. The only downside, you will miss out on some of the galleries that are just past the chapel. The upside: you get a really great look at the diplomatic entrance to the Papal apartments.
Bonus: Hidden away at the back of the basilica is the Sacristy museum. Simply walk toward the left of Bernini’s canopy and you will see a little hall that will take you to the annex, where you can pay a small fee to tour the Sacristy. A sacristy is a place in the church where the tools of mass are kept. This is where the priest, or in this case, the Pope, would prepare for service. It is full of priceless relics and historical pieces that dazzle while they tell the story of the church.
Through a little known procedure, you can get a reservation to see the Tomb of St. Peter. To do this, you must make a request through the Office of The Scavi. This will allow you to see the ancient ruins, St. Peter’s resting place, and the
Clementine Chapel if this request is approved.
Wait! Don’t confuse the Necropolis that is offered through the Museum with the one offered through the Scavi. Do go see the second site located under a parking garage. Those tickets can be purchased at the same time you get your full museum pass.
Bonus: Get to the Office of the Scavi early so you can pop into the Teutonic Cemetery just across the way. It’s free to look around.
Lastly, if you intend to get into the weekly audience with the Pope, you’ll need to request your tickets for that as well. There are two ways to go about it. You can either check in with your local parish and find out if your diocese has any available for your dates or request them directly from the Prefecture of the Papal Household
Bonus: You can climb the 550 steps up Michaelangelo’s Dome and take in the breadth of the Holy See and the city beyond. It costs 10 Euro, cash only. Plus, there’s a little coffee shop up there! The Italians think of everything concerning Dolce Vita.
The Vatican is an amazing place. The art spans the chronicles of time and comes from every corner of the world. You’ll walk through the stories of the Etruscans, the Greeks, and the Renaissance. You’ll also see a modern religion at work. In case you are wondering how to even approach touring such a massive place, it is an official country all on its own, Here are a few facts to help you keep it all straight:
- There have been more than 260 popes over the past 2 millenia.
- The current pope is Pope Francis. He’s from Brazil.
- The hall of Famers are St. Peter, he’s the first pope, and St. John Paul II, he’s by far the most popular pope of modern history and is credited with the fall of the Iron Curtain. He’s from Poland.
- The most corrupt popes came from the Borgia family, and they are the reason that Martin Luther hung up his list of concerns.
- Keep your eyes peeled for Pope John Paul I. He’s being considered for sainthood, and he ties for the second shortest reign in Vatican history.
So, all together now! Do get your Vatican Museum and Gardens tickets, Scavi and Necropolis tickets as well as your Papal audience pass ahead of time. Everything else can wait until you are there…
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By Alexandra Tyson
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