Sunday, 16 August 2015

Vatican City: St Peter's Basilica

During my recent trip to Europe I had the privilege of visiting  the smallest country in the world. Vatican City, a sovereign state with a land size of only 0.44 square kilometre is located on Vatican Hill and is completely surrounded by the city of Rome. 
This 'country' is so tiny but its popularity is incredible, attracting 5.5 million tourists in 2013 which averaged out to about 15,000 a day.  
One of its main attractions is St Peter's Basilica, a world renowned church which is believed to be the burial ground of one of Jesus's disciples named St Peter. 
The income of this tiny nation is derived mainly from contribution of more than 1 billion members of the Roman Catholic Churches worldwide and also from tourists as tickets have to be purchased to see its famous basilica and museums. There was a very long queue that probably ran into the thousands when I was there so it is always better to pay more by going through an agent and skipping the tiresome line.
Entry into the church and museum is subject to strict security. It is just like an airport where all belongings and even the body has to be scanned. A decent code of dressing has to be observed too which means no bare backs, mini skirts, see through or hot pants allowed.
The church was preparing for a function as thousands of chairs were set up at St Peter's Square in front of the basilica.
St Peter's Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world. A feature worthy of notice is its main dome as this dome was designed by Michelangelo. There are a few balconies on the upper floor of the basilica which must be where the Pope stood and waved at the crowds as seen on world news sometimes.
The dome is massive and it looks very beautiful even from far.

St Peter's Square which is just in front of the basilica is an elliptical esplanade created in the mid 17th century. It is bordered by colonnades and there are 140 statues of saints that grace the balustrades on the colonnades.
Even on its own the square is awesomely spectacular.
The square also features an obelisk and two fountains. This picture shows one of the fountains.

The head of Vatican City is the Pope. Swiss guards who have taken an oath of loyalty to the Pope are stationed at the various entrances into Vatican City and they are are certainly dressed to kill. The uniform with bold yellow, blue and red stripes tailored in a Renaissance-era style would attract just about anyone who walk pass them.
While the exterior is impressive the interior is a jaw-dropping display of extravagance.
Every inch of the floor, the walls, the pillars and the ceilings are lavishly and elaborately ornamented.
Among the many famous features to look out for is Bernini's Baldachin. This is a huge bronze sculpted canopy over the high altar of St Peter's Basilica. It was created by a famous Italian artist by the name of Bernini.
If you look at the size of people in this picture you will be amazed by the enormity of this baldachin.
Another famous feature is Pieta, a sculpture created by Michelangelo. It depicts the virgin Mary carrying the dead body of Jesus.
St Peter's Basilica houses the tombs of many popes which are placed in the lower floor of the basilica. The body of Pope John XXIII (d in 1963) is the only body on display in the main church.
Looking up you can see the grandeur of the arched ceilings and the main dome (which is designed by Michelangelo). 
There are smaller domes and every one is adorned with marvelous frescos.
Marbled pillars, well embellished altars, remarkable paintings and frescoes, well crafted statues and sculptures are seen throughout the basilica and walking around is an eye-popping experience, really!

Such magnificence. No wonder thousands queue to visit this place every day.
Photo credit:
I didn't have the opportunity to take a photo of St Peter's Basilica and Vatican City during sunset so I am displaying one seen in a travel website which I find very beautiful.

Related Post: Click To View
Vatican City: The Vatican Museums

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