Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vatican City Part I - St Peter's Basilica

Coming to Rome without making a "pilgrimage" to the Vatican city, is like not coming to Rome at all. Although the Vatican city is a sovereign city-state (it has its own monarchy and administration, and even issues its own passports, completely independent of Rome, thank you very much), it is located within the walled enclave of Rome. We did not have to get past any customs though.

The Vatican city is very easy to get to, just hop on the metro and get off at station Ottaviano, the nearest station to the Vatican city, within 15 mins of walking. We arrived there very early, mainly to beat the legendary queues that snake the Vatican museum and the St Peter's Basilica during peak season (which is during the summer months).

Before I started this Europe trip, my boss was telling me "You're going Rome? Rome is very beautiful, especially St Peter's Square". It is almost a prerogative to visit the Vatican City when one comes to Rome. I agree with him!

Piazza San Pietro (St Peter's square)

St Peter's square is a wide expanse of space, with graceful columns surrounding the piazza, and in the centre, an impressive obelisk arises. As always, in Rome, you'd expect to see a fountain in the piazza, to soothe many a parched throats.

The graceful columns surrounding the square

St Peter's Square

2 words to describe St Peter's Basilica. Opulent and Cavernous. The ceiling had numerous domes and were gilded in gold, the floor has elaborately designed "man-holes", the interior was a gigantic "cavern" of sorts. Check out the pictures. I say no more. =)

It's a flattering ray of sunshine

The elaborate "man-hole" on the floor

Beautifully gilded ceiling dome

The grandeur, the splendour

Excuse the difference in ambience of the pictures. The top 4 were mine, the next 2 were Mr Irish's and the last 2 were Ms Rehau's. Personally, I prefer a warmer tinge to my photos.

St Peter's Basilica is the principal shrine of the Catholic church and was built upon what was claimed to be the resting place of St Peter. The size and grandeur of the basilica aren't to be taken lightly. I was astounded by the size of the basilica, which could have easily covered several football fields. Opulence took on a whole new level here - from the marble flooring to the extravagantly decorated interiors, from the gilded ceilings, to the beautiful commissioned paintings, the grandeur is enough to put the other smaller churches in Rome to shame. Lol.

Visitors can pay to ascent the basilica for a view of the city, but we did not make the ascent due to the lack of time, and for fear of the queues that would snake the Vatican museum later.

Check out my next post regarding the Vatican museum. Are you as awed and inspired as I was?

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