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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Vatican City: The Vatican Museums


Museums are generally not my cup of tea and if given a choice I would rather hang out in landscaped parks that display beds of pretty flowers. The only museum I really ever like is Cairo Museum which I visited long before the birth of this blog. I knew I was scheduled to visit St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums in Vatican City but I never knew how impressive the museums are till I set foot on them. 
Even though there are a series of museums, they are all housed in a huge block of building under the same roof. 

This is the old entrance to Vatican Museum.
The museum is massive and in order to make sense of what's what and where's where it is best to have a guide. The queue to buy tickets is also terribly long (a few thousands perhaps) and to go through a pre-booked agent is a good option even though it costs more as you get to skip the queue. Our Italian guide, Roberto speaks English with an interesting accent but he is undeniably a very good guide.
With 15000 visitors a day, it is to be expected that certain stretches of the museum would be sardine packed. That's the reason we had to go on an audio guide with earphones and a voice transmitter around the neck so that even if you get lost in the crowd, you can still hear your guide's voice.
There are a few interesting courtyards within the museum ground. This is Pine Cone Courtyard which features a big cracked sphere within a sphere and a big bronze statue of a pine cone (hidden in this photo).

This is Belvedere Courtyard that features a fountain. The Pope probably takes his evening walks around here when all visitors have left.
The Vatican Museums are among the world's most visited museums. There are lavish displays of sculptures, frescoes, tapestries and paintings by prominent artists like Michelangelo and Raphael to name a few.
We walked through The Gallery Of Candelabra, a long stretch of hallway that displays Roman sculptures that dated back to the 3rd century.
The thing that attracted me most are not the sculptures but the ceilings of the gallery. These were beautifully designed, painted, frescoed and sculpted from year 1883 to 1887. The very intricate details are worthy of the highest appreciation and admiration.
Among my favourites are The Gallery Of Maps. This 120 metres long corridor features 40 enormous maps created during the 16th century. The maps show the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and its prominent cities and depict events like battles that was fought by the Italians. Well it's not so much the maps that hang on the walls but it's the gorgeous arched ceiling that makes this my favourite.
A detailed fresco on the ceiling.
 Each and every square on the ceiling is different but to appreciate all of them will be a neck breaking experience as you will have to look up all the time.
This map of Venice is one of the maps hanging on the wall. It may not look impressive but to think that it was drawn out and painted in the 16th century when technology was not even an iota of what we have now, it should deserve our highest commendation shouldn't it?

The Gallery Of Tapestries is 75 metres long and it is a collection of 15th to 17th century tapestries many depicting Christendom.

This stretch of ceiling has its own unique design.
The museums are spread out over a few floors and we did a lot of walking to visit the more popular sections.
The entire museum complex is amazingly architectured and even stretches of linking hallways and corridors are remarkable.

See the painstaking effort put in?
The last museum we visited is Sistine Chapel and it is also the most famous I think. This little chapel was packed to the brim and we had to inch our way as the crowd was enormous here. Many security guards are stationed here and whistles would be blown when anyone is seen taking out his camera as photography is not allowed. This photo is taken after I stepped out of the chapel just at the exit door.
And what's so famous about Sistine Chapel is the ceilings that were painted by the much acclaimed and world famous artist, Michelangelo. This photo is not clear as it was randomly taken using my hand phone while getting sandwiched by the crowd.
We left the museum building and made our way out. The collection of such fine and amazing arts make this visit worth our while but the sad thing is we didn't finish exploring all the museums. We only visited the famous ones so should I ever come here again, I will explore this place, without a guide and at my own sweet pace. 

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