Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Vatican Museum & St. Peter's Basilica

Looking back at our vacation photos has been a pretty surreal experience for me. I go through an array of emotions. Remembering all the fun we had, all the incredible people I met. At times, it fills me with great joy looking back, and others, sadness that it's over. And most of all, I find myself having to pinch myself because I can't even believe that this is real life. This happened and it was the most incredible adventure.

The Vatican Museum is by far one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. As you walk through the museum, you are surrounded by beauty and history. You can't help but be in awe and at the same time, it was incredibly overwhelming.

Sebastian and I took a three-hour walking tour of the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica, and although we had those little earpieces in listening to an abundance of information, I couldn't help but block it out and just stand there completely overwhelmed by everything that surrounded me. Some of the most famous and influential works of art can be found among the gigantic collection. Paintings so big that walls had to be destroyed just to fit them inside. Tapestry so intricately designed, you have to wonder how they possibly did it all. And then, of course, beautifully painted frescos covering the walls and ceilings. It was unbelievable. I could have spent days in there.

There's really no way that words, or even photographs could paint an accurate picture in your mind. To say it was massive, to say it was lavish.... all seems like an understatement. It was truly like nothing I have ever seen before.

Have a look at our photos, if you'd like...


The Vatican gardens.

A sphere within a sphere. Which signifies Christianity in the middle, surrounded by the world. It shows that Christianity is at the core of everything.

I challenge you - go to the Vatican Museum, stand here, and then try to listen to your tour guide. It's just not happening, I tell you. The ceiling looks like a sculpture, but it's actually a painting.

We spent the day walking on original mosaic tiles.

...And then we did something crazy. Something that no person should ever do...

...We took a photo inside the Sistine Chapel. (And then we got in trouble.)

Looking up at Michelangelo's work of art was both inspiring and breathtaking. And then shortly after, our necks started to hurt. But you just can't help yourself, so you work through the pain.

Can you imagine how Michelangelo himself must have felt? Working for hours upon hours to complete this? He essentially locked himself in the chapel for four years to complete the fresco that you see today.

And did you know that Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor, not a painter, and this was his first attempt at a fresco? ...Beginners luck, I'd say.

Now, let's make our way over to St. Peter's Basilica. The biggest church in the world. And home to the Pope.

Here we saw some of the most beautiful works of art, sculptures, and religious artifacts. Our eyes feasted on Michelangleo's Pieta, and we walked among the Vatican crypts. We even saw a Pope's corpse. Yeah, a real one. His body was covered in wax in order to preserve him and he's now on display inside the church. (Don't worry though, I chose to save you by not posting that here for everyone to see. You're welcome:) Sometimes you see the most beautiful things. And sometimes you see the weirdest.

This is just outside of the church, leading into it.

To give you an idea of just how grand and ornate the inside of St. Peter's is, have a look at this video. (I did take my own video, which turned out pretty horrible, and this is much better:)

To give you an idea of the scale, the letters you see on the left side in this photo, are actually six feet tall. That is taller than me. Massive is a seriously understatement. I had to pick my jaw up from the ground on more than one occasion.

Another cool fact: Did you know that there are actually no paintings inside St. Peter's Basilica? Anything that looks like a painting, is actually a mosaic. Fascinating!

Surrounding the main altar are four great piers that support the huge dome. Each pier represents each of the four major relics that can be found here.

NE Pier - St Longinus, the Roman soldier who thrust a spear in the side of Christ at the crucifixion. It is said that the balcony holds the actual spear.
NW Pier - St Helena, Constantine's mother, holding a large cross. This represents the relic of the True Cross found by the saint in Jerusalem.
SW Pier - St Veronica, with the veil Christ used to wipe his face on the way to Calvary, leaving his image imprinted on it.
SE Pier - St Andrew, with his trademark diagonal cross upon which he was martyred. The relic is Andrew's head, which was returned to the Greek Orthodox Churhc in 1964.

Let it be known that the church has not made any official claims of the authenticity of these relics, and there are other Catholic churches that claim to have the same ones. Either way, it's pretty amazing.

Legend has it that if you touch St. Peter's foot, you will receive a special blessing.

The view from outside.

And then we set out on a journey. Once we left St. Peter's Basilica, we walked around trying to find a nice place to eat. And since we walked so far to get to the restaurant, we figured -Hell! Let's just keep on walking.

And we did.

For 9 miles.

We were both so exhausted and sore by the time we made it back to the Roman Forum, I exclaimed, "Well - if we can make it through that without killing each other, we can make it through anything!" And I guess, we did. :)

And that's our trip to Rome! If you missed anything along the way, it's all here for you to see. (And don't worry your pretty little faces, I still have hundreds of photos from Poland to show you:)  


  1. Amazing pictures!! The Vatican is definitely on my places to go list. I got goosebumps just looking at your photos - how fun for you two to go on this trip together!! XO

  2. Again with the jealousy-inducing post!! :)
    Your history + pictures are my favorite. You and I should be blog tour guides. (If only we could find a way to fund that...!)
    Also, I can't believe you took a picture in the Sistine Chapel- shame! (I like you, so I say this jokingly, but seriously! Shame!!)

  3. Great photos! Looks like such a fun trip! The sights are too beautiful!