Vatican City, An Overview

A view of Basilica from Via della Conciliazione
Vatican City, is a place for the Roman Catholic to be, especially for many making the trips to Rome.  While we were in Dubai for the transit, we met many nuns, priests, fathers on the same flight to Rome.  

According to Vatican City official website,

Vatican City State was founded following the signing of the Lateran Pacts between the Holy See and Italy on February 11th 1929. These were ratified on June 7th 1929. Its nature as a sovereign State distinct from the Holy See is universally recognized under international law.

In this tiny and world’s smallest state, it has 800 citizens, with 450 of them are the Vatican citizen, the rest are allowed to reside there.

St Peter’s Square, always packed with people

Vatican also has its own coin and stamps, but when we were there, the souvenir shops inside Vatican City accept only Euro.

Me, standing on the Via della Conciliazione

I am not too sure how to take a public transport to Vatican City, but it is on the west side of Rome.  We took taxi while we were in Rome.

We arrived Vatican City on Sunday, which was the last Sunday of the month, where the Pope would make an appearance to bless the crowd.  The session would normally take place at 12noon, except during summer, which may start earlier.

Once we came out from the lift, we were ushered into upper deck of a dome.

We spent the first half of the morning to visit the Basilica, when the line was still shorter.  We opted for an audio guide which we were given 1 postcard with the info of the St Peter’s Square, we needed it when reached to the Dome, to find out about the places in Vatican City.  And a laminated map of Basilica, which in a way, does not follow the sequences, highly confusing and frustrating to use.  We ended up reading the description available.

The stunning dome roof art, which I am amazed how hundred of years ago to do such work

The audioguide users would have the access to the lift to go up to half way of the Basilica, which would let one to admire the inside arts of the dome.  So we skipped half of the climbing and reserve the energy for the real climb at the end which we were having some hard times with the older folks group ahead of us.  We have to wait and take as many short breaks in between.  We could not overtake them, as the stairs are seriously narrow.

The tile arts on the wall of the upper deck dome

Vandalism in Basilica is quite severe, as you could see the stickers, hand writing everywhere on the stairs, be it on the way up or down.  Also some has started to place locks on the stairs holders, which could be potentially dangerous for older folks.

The narrow stairs to climb to the highest point of the dome

The whole journey should take about 30-45mins to reach the top, depending how fast one would go, or how slow one wants to take the time to admire the arts, the beauty of whatever been put there.  For us, we took a really long stroll while we were in Vatican.  Except, when the energy ran low.

The highest point of dome, must go
One of the exit of dome
View we see when we reached the top of the dome
Jesus and 12 apostles on the roof of Basilica, greeting the world

Things to note when visiting Vatican:-

  1. Pack some food.  Nothing fancy like pasta as the place is a holy place, some respect is needed.  Sandwich also, no.  One may dirty the place.  Recommend to bring biscuits, apples, pears, something you will not leave any trace behind.
  2. Food in Vatican, especially the Basilica is almost none existence.  Also I avoid buying anything from the food trucks outside the Basilica as the price, is exorbitantly high.
  3. Unless the souvenirs are only available in Vatican, otherwise buy them outside, like a few streets away from Vatican, the price dropped by 100%.  For example, a key chain at Vatican could be 2 Euro.  After 2 streets away, it would be 1 Euro.
  4. Reserve energy.  Take your time when visiting places like Vatican.  No point to rush unless you are only in Rome for 2 or 3 days.
  5. The tour, unless you really need them, book them online.  Or for Vatican, just get the audioguide, it is the same explanation.  Except with the real guide, you could ask more question.
  6. Get express tickets online, do not buy from whoever approach you outside Vatican.  They can promise the world, with probably until kingdom come.  So you get my point?
  7. My experience in Rome was good until I bumped into rude tourists.  I will not generalise which nation as I was pushed by a caucasian tourist while standing in line.  So stand firm, do what Romans would do, confront them.
  8. Avoid the selfie stick, it is really a health hazard for others, while one update the social media on where about.
  9. Remain silent when inside Basilica, it is a holy place.
  10. Dress comfortably, but nothing too revealing, again, it is a holy place
Retna and I, taken at night after dinner stroll at Basilica


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