16 November 2011

Vatican City

Within Rome's boundaries is Vatican City - a city-state unto itself. I was so excited the day we got to explore Vatican City and its museum - we woke so very early and lined up outside the museum walls - but it definitely was worth it. Christy and I, and the tour we were on, were one of the first ones inside the museum - able to completely enjoy the works of art without the hoards of people. If you thought Florence's Palazzo Vecchio and its ceilings were intricate, bold and over-the-top...you'll be blown away by the Vatican Museum's ceilings. It boasts never-ending hallways full of frescoes, decorative patterns and sculptural angels. You'll forget you're supposed to be looking at the art on the walls, since you're too busy looking at the art on the ceiling. So over-the-top, but it's amazing.

                                                           Vatican Museum's ceiling              ©CM


The works by Carvaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Angelico and Raphael are astounding, but the real star of the show is the Sistine Chapel. The Chapel s famous for its political significance - as it is here that each new Pope is elected. There is an adjoining chimney and when a Pope has been elected, white smoke is sent up for all to see...and if not, black smoke is sent up. But, perhaps, more relevant to you and I is the art that the Sistine Chapel is famous for - Michelangelo's ceiling and "Last Judgment" piece. No pictures were allowed inside, and I'm not sure I would've wanted to take many anyway...you have to experience the Sistine Chapel - to sit on the benches along the walls and stare upwards for what seems like an eternity. It's hard to believe any one man created these frescoes - the compositions, the human forms...the colors. It's hard to imagine the process of actually creating something so detailed. I personally loved the "Last Judgment" piece - looking at each person, what they were doing, their expression, etc. Quite beautiful and moving.

                                                              Emile, our tour guide                  ©CM

                                                                                           ©CM

I enjoyed St. Peter's Basilica almost as much as the Sistine Chapel. All the grand decorations, the countless sculptures and intricate altar...everywhere you look in this basilica, there is something fascinating to capture your eye. I don't think I've ever seen so much gold and marble in all my life. If you ever find yourself in the Vatican City, you can't leave before discovering St. Peter's Basilica.

St. Peter's Basilica by night

      St. Peter's main aisle, leading to the altar                                                                                      ©CM

                                                                                                                  ©CM

Looking through the altar and toward the throne of St. Peter



                                                                   ©CM                              St. Peter - you're supposed to touch his
                                                                                                             foot in order to get his blessing

                                                                                                                          ©CM

Looking upwards at St. Peter's Basilica

                                                                                                                        ©CM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ©CM

The columns that line St. Peter's Square

                                          The Vatican guards - aren't their outfits amazing?     ©CM

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