The top tourist attractions in Vatican City are an interesting set of landmarks that lie in the holiest place of the Catholic faith. Vatican City is located within the city of Rome. It has a relatively small land area but ironically, its size does not immediately correlate with its global influence. In fact, the Vatican City is even one of the most powerful nations in the world nearly equal to the United States of America, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia in terms of its economic importance.
The Vatican City remains as one of the most special places on earth because it is a perfectly functional theocracy. It has certain religious authority over the international members comprising the biggest spiritual organization in the planet. While other theocracies fail, the Vatican City remains intact for 2000 years.
1. Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel remains the most iconic of the top tourist attractions in Vatican City. It is located within the complex of the Apostolic Palace, which is the official residence of the pope. What makes the Sistine Chapel so noteworthy is that its interior walls, especially the vaulted ceiling, are decorated with masterpiece paintings of Renaissance history’s greatest artists. Raphael’s frescoes depict the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul in the service of God.
2. St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Square is the most popular among the top tourist attractions in Vatican City – popular meaning it is always flocked with visitors from Italy or beyond. Interestingly, St. Peter’s Square is shaped like a key from aerial view, which depicts the inheritance of the apostle Peter as the chief builder of Christ’s church. The St. Peter’s Square is very crowded during special vigils and papal inaugurations, with the latest event about the cardinal from Argentina being elected as Pope Francis I in March 14, 2013.
3. Casina Pio IV
The Casina Pio IV is a famous learning center for the College of Cardinals that runs the Vatican City. Curiously, this patrician villa is divided into three schools according to their special field. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a school focusing on pure sciences such as biology, chemistry and astronomy (with the latter integral for the creation of the Vatican Observatory). The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is close to the heart of the Catholic doctrine focusing on the global issues that Christian societies face. Lastly, the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas caters to a wide array of academic fields.
4. Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums store the chronicles of the Vatican institution. The story of Christianity is written in the documents and codices housed in its libraries. Some of these written texts are highly guarded secrets pertaining to prophecies in the past made by saints.
The Vatican Museums also keep and display an extensive collection of relics, especially the types of old weaponry found in the vaults of the Swiss Guard armory. This is the place to investigate Vatican history, whether good or bad.
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*Image of Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican via Shutterstock
*Image of St. Peter’s Cathedral via Shutterstock