Vatican City - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Vatican City

Vatican City

The Vatican City is a remarkable entity in that it is an independent state administered by the Roman Catholic Church and one of the world's richest countries. The population of this enclave doubles during the working week as the residents from Rome cross into the Vatican City to work within its boundaries. Scandal and intrigue has tarnished the papacy's image over the years, but this does not detract from the magnificence of the art collections housed within its buildings.

The must-see sights when on holiday in the Vatican City include St Peter's Basilica, the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Library. The Pilgrim Tourist Information Office is located at P San Pietro (Telephone: +39 69 88 44 66). The Vatican Gardens are open Monday to Saturday 8.30am to 7pm.

Information & Facts

The official language of Italy is Italian. English is understood in the larger cities but not in the more remote parts of the country.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, which is divided into 100 cents. Those arriving in Italy with foreign currency can obtain Euros through any bank, ATM or bureaux de change. ATMs are widespread. Travellers cheques can be exchanged with ease in the large cities, not so in the smaller towns. Credit cards are accepted in upmarket establishments and shops around the cities. Banks are closed on weekends, but tend to have better rates than casas de cambios.


Religious pilgrims will enjoy the Vatican bookstore near to St Peter's Basilica, it has a broad selection of books on Catholicism, popes, saints and the Vatican city itself. Another great place for souveniers is the Vatican museum gift shop.

The Basilica lies above the reputed site of St. Peter's tomb. It is an overwhelming interior, containing notable sculptures including Michelangelo's Pieta, which is protected by bullet-proof glass since the damaging attack on it in 1972. In the central aisle stands Arnolfo da Cambio's bronze statue of St Peter, its foot worn down by the constant flow of pilgrims' kisses. Proudly resting above the papal altar is Bernini's Throne of St Peter. The Vatican Grottoes, containing papal tombs, can be reached by steps from the statue of St Longinus. The Necropolis is located one level below the grottoes. This is the legendary site of St Peter's tomb and advance permission has to be obtained to view it. A strict dress code is in place for the Basilica and no shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts are allowed (for men and women).

The Sistine Chapel's famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo looms above the frescoes on the side walls, painted by an illustrious team of artists that included Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Roselli, Pinturicchio, Signorelli and della Gatta. The altar wall is covered by Michelangelo's Last Supper, revealing the figure of Christ hovering above centre and flanked by Mary and other saintly figures. The Vatican Museums provide an inspiring visit to one of the world's greatest collections of art. The galleries stretch over four miles (6km), and include the magnificent Raphael rooms, the Etruscan Museum and the Pio-Clementino Museum, which boasts the world's largest collection of Classical statues.

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