Vatican City

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RASC Group outside the Vatican City wallApril 1, 2006 - Saturday - We are picked up by our bus and taken to Vatican City this morning. We meet our guide there, and then proceed to St. Peter's Basilica. We are supposed to go to the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms, however there is a screw-up in the booking which prevents us from using the priority line for guided groups. The regular line-up is over two hours long just to get inside, so we choose to go directly to St. Peter's Basilica instead. Needless to say, there is a huge debate with our guide about this!

St. Peter's Basilica is a very busy place.  Lineups are shortest the earlier you arrive.  Everyone has to pass through a security check point before entering the Basilica.  The paintings, sculpture, frescos, and opulence are almost overwhelming.  Every few steps as we wander around the Basilica offers a new work of art that is on a scale simply not seen in North America.  There are popes lying in state, gold-covered marble crypts, opulent chapels and alters - all of which must have a story behind them.  It would be nice to spend the day in the Basilica and either have a guide or use the little audio narrators that can be rented.

Outside in St. Peter's Square, preparations are being made to stage an upcoming papal event.  Thousands of chairs are setup, along with a stage and sound systems.  The colonnades around St. Peter's Square are not normally highlighted in newscasts, but they have superb architectural features.  There are statues lined up along the top of the colonnaded columns.  Again, it would be nice to know some of the stories and history behind these sculptures, and the rest of St. Peter's Square.  The hills of Rome frame St. Peter's Square beautifully, with the huge cypress trees being very apparent in the distance.

Colonnades of St Peter's Square

The Swiss Guard at an entrance to the Vatican

Fountain, St Peter's Square

St Peter's Basilica facing onto St. Peter's Square
. A stage is setup for an upcoming papal event. The balcony the Pope uses is the centre one.

The main entrance to St. Peter's Basilica

Domes, St. Peter's Basilica

Ceiling and dome, St. Peter's Basilica

Domes, St. Peter's Basilica

Domes, St. Peter's Basilica

Dome, St. Peter's Basilica

Dome, St. Peter's Basilica

Altar, St. Peter's Basilica

Altar, St. Peter's Basilica

Altar, St. Peter's Basilica

Bronze door detail, entranceway, St. Peter's Basilica

Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica

Entrance to the crypt where St. Peter and all the popes who followed him are buried, St. Peter's Basilica

Lying in state, St. Peter's Basilica

We catch our bus in an underground parking lot (located under Vatican City), and then our driver and guide take us on a (completely useless) whirlwind tour of the central part of Rome.

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