Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vatican City ~ Sistine Chapel ~ Rome

We sure could not spend time in Rome without visiting the Vatican.  The Vatican is the world’s smallest state, independent since 1929, with a population of 800. This walled city within Rome covers 44 ha.(almost 109 acres) and is a self-sufficient community with its own stamp, currency, radio station and newspaper.  The pope is head of the Apostolic Roman Catholic Church but he is also head of state with full judiciary, executive and legislative powers and the official language is Latin.

We stand across the street from the Vatican but see little more than the wall that surrounds it.
Walls around Vatican City in Rome
It had been suggested that we take a tour and that was most definitely the best way to see the Vatican City.  There is a security check, like the airport, at the entrance and strict dress code is enforced so check their webpage for that information.  Our guide was fun and made what could be very boring information at times, very interesting and worth listening to, especially with that Irish accent!
The artwork covers the ceiling of this portion of the gallery
Frescoe ceilings inside the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums, filled with the most famous art collection in the world became a proper museum in the eighteenth century and has 7 km (4.4 miles) of exhibits including the frescoes of Raphael, which were amazing. There have been several museums with a total of 57 galleries added since then and it can take hours to see it all.

The scupture shows Laocoon and his two sons being strangled by serpents
Sculpture of Laocoon and his sons in Museo Pio-Clementino
The Museo Pio-Clementino had some of the most beautiful statues of the ancient world.  This sculpture was incredible and I later learned it was the priest Laocoon with his two sons being strangled by the serpents sent by Athena. There were too many pieces of art to learn all about them and their history but thanks to my guide book on Rome, the pieces I seemed to like the most were the ones featured.

This sculpture is of Apollo Belevedere in Museo Pio-Clementino
Apollo Belvedere in Vatican museum
This statue of Apollo Belvedere, as well as Laocoon, was considered a huge influence on art of the Renaissance.  It is considered the epitome of classical perfection and it truly is amazing to see these pieces of art that were done hundreds or thousands of years ago.  This statue is 7’3” tall and made of white marble, circa 120-140.  This is a copy of the original bronze sculpture of 350-325BC.  
These walls are covered by large tapestries at the Vatican Museum
Tapestries in Vatican museums in Rome
Pinacoteca houses a room that is dedicated to Raphael.  The room is lined with tapestries created by Flemish weaver Pieter van Aelst in 1517 after Raphael was commissioned to design the cartoons for the tapestries.  The tapestry art form was considered a more prestigious one than paintings were during the Renaissance period and the cost for this completed work was five times what Michelangelo was paid for the Sistine Chapel.
The floor of the round room is covered by mosaics
Mosaics on the floor of the Vatican museum
 This circular room has a beautiful mosaic floor to enjoy as a piece of art as well as the statues lining the walls. The Roman mosaic floors, made from tesserae colored marble, are very intricate works telling stories like this one of Neptune.
The room has several statues around the perimeter but this is the only bronze one and is Hercules.
Hercules in Sala Rotonda gallery
The sculptures in the Sala Rotunda includes a bronze sculpture of Hercules from the second century AD that was found in 1864 under some travertine, the inscription found suggests that the statue was struck by lightening and so following Roman tradition, was buried on that spot.  
The high ceilings are painted with incredible art dating back hundreds of years.
Frescoe art in the Vatican in Rome
The only place one does not get to take photographs is in the Sistine Chapel so you will have to visit to see the incredible works of art in there. We are brought into the large darkened room with the famous Michelangelo painted ceiling and quietly stand with many others who are here to admire and enjoy what we have read about in history books.
We spent a few hours on this tour and I will admit that I did get several hundred photos, there is so much to see in the great museums at the Vatican. Our next part of the tour was in St. Peter’s Basilica, more photos!  View here. I will soon be adding more to the pages of our Roman holiday. 


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