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A Tourist’s Guide to the Vatican City

A little big world. You can hardly find a definition that describes the Vatican City better. It is the smallest state on the planet, both in size (about half a square kilometer) and in population (about 850 inhabitants). But within its borders there’s everything you need: shops, a heliport, and even a pharmacy and post office.

Surely, the “Leonine City,” as the Vatican is often called—owing to the walls erected by Pope Leo IV between 848 and 852 AD to protect the Vatican Hill and St. Peter’s Basilica—is a great place to visit. My Pope gives you exclusive, full access to the places, people, and traditions of the world of Pope Francis.

Entering the City

The easiest way to enter the city that is now home to Pope Francis is through the entrance leading to St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica. Here, undergoing a security check will suffice. With all the other gates, you can only step inside upon formal invitation if you can prove that you have reasonable grounds. For example, you may obtain a temporary pass if you need to purchase medicines at the drug store; you just have to show the prescription at Porta Sant’Anna.

Now, let us take you on a guided tour around the Vatican:

A Tourist's Guide to the Vatican City - image architecture-3133764_640 on https://www.mypope.com.ph

First, we start with The Bronze Doors, which are the main entrance to the Vatican buildings. They are at the north colonnade of St. Peter’s Square. This is the office where you get tickets for audiences. Pope Paul V’s coat of arms adorns the door wings.

Next stop is the Vatican Radio. The antenna of the broadcasting radio stands over the extensive Vatican Gardens. The radio broadcasts programs in about 40 languages, mainly via the internet.

If you wish to go to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, the Vatican has a train station that can take you there. It has been opened to the public by Pope Francis and operates on a weekly basis.

Moving on, we take you to the Pinecone Courtyard. The Roman-era bronze pinecone is almost four meters tall, and it overlooks the courtyard named after it. The two peacocks are based on ancient sculptures.

Here we are at the Vatican Post Office. It operates regularly and charges the same prices as the Italian ones. But whoever writes a letter to the Pope and mails it from the Vatican does not need to place a stamp.

Also Read: LOOK: Vatican has some of the most beautiful stamps in the world!

Now, let’s go to where Pope Francis celebrated his first mass: The Church of St. Anne. It was opened to the public on March 17, 2013 and is known as “the Pope’s Parish.”

Let’s head over to the Paul VI Audience Hall where audiences (including general ones in case of bad weather) as well as meetings are held. It is also known as Nervi Audience Hall after the Architect, Pier Luigi Nervi, who was commissioned to design it by Pope Paul VI.

The last stop of this tour is the Sistine Chapel where you can find the famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo. You can visit the Sistine Chapel today as part of the Vatican Museum route. However, its doors close during conclaves since popes are elected here.

A Tourist's Guide to the Vatican City - image europe-2115746_640 on https://www.mypope.com.ph

If you enjoyed our guided tour and wish to experience the Vatican City in person, why not join the Win A My Pope Trip to the Vatican Raffle? You can be one of three lucky winners who will win an all-expense-paid trip to the city! To know more, click here.


Text by Enrico Casarini

Read the full version of this article in the April 2018 issue of My Pope Philippines. Call +63917.711.1818 to order back issues.

Subscribe now to My Pope Philippines and get a chance to win an all-expense-paid trip to the Vatican!

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