It’s known as the home of the Pope, but it’s also so much more than that. Located right in the heart of Rome, Vatican City is full of history and beautiful architecture. It’s no wonder why more than 5 million people visit it every year! Not only is Vatican City the seat of the Catholic Church, but it’s also the world’s smallest sovereign country in both population and land mass, with only approximately 1,000 people and 0.44 square kilometres (0.17 square miles). Being only a half-hour walk from John Cabot University, it won’t take long for students to experience it, either!
No matter how long you study in Rome, and no matter how much of it you end up seeing, there are many reasons why you might want to have Vatican City at the top of your list. Here’s why you need to visit it while studying abroad in Rome.
It Has Plenty of History
Beyond simply being where the Catholic Church and the Pope call home, Vatican City’s connection to religion is on full display when you go there—and it’s a sight to behold. For example, Vatican City is home to St. Peter’s Basilica. Known as the world’s largest church, this masterpiece of Renaissance architecture was built right above St. Peter’s tomb, and is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics and tourists alike, featuring works from Bernini and Michelangelo inside.
There’s also the Apostolic Palace, where the Pope officially resides, and has done since 1378. Vatican City also houses the Sistine Chapel, a chapel painted by Michelangelo himself which includes his famous Creation of Adam on its ceiling. It is adjacent to the Basilica, and is where the papal enclave—also known as the election process for a new Pope—takes place. Furthermore, the Pope also meets the public—known as the Papal Audience—on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., often at Saint Peter’s Square outdoors.
It’s Also Home to Some Famous Museums, With Some Iconic Pieces Inside
The rich historical wonders of Vatican City will wow the students of any Rome university, and for good reason. The Vatican Museums house many famous pieces of Renaissance paintings, manuscripts, tapestries, and Roman and Greek sculptures. With 20,000 different works on display, not to mention approximately 50,000 more contained within the museums, centuries of Roman history and art can be found within these walls. The lines to get tickets can be long, but to see paintings from some of the world’s most legendary artists—not to mention some iconic statues—makes it well worth it. On top of that, going to the museums on the last Sunday of every month means you get in for free.
Those Who Study Abroad in Rome Will Love Its More Underrated Areas
While you study abroad in Rome and visit Vatican City, it’s also worth taking a look at some of its lesser-known tourist attractions. One example of this is the Vatican’s gardens, which are lush, spacious, and full of sculptures, fountains, and various flora and fauna. Although tickets for a tour must be bought in advance, access to the Vatican Museums is included in the ticket price for seeing the gardens.
There’s also the Scavi Excavation Tour, in which visitors can not only see St. Peter’s tomb below the basilica, but also the Vatican Necropolis—a burial ground that was discovered in the 1940s, and which features tombs from as far back as the 1st century AD. Also, be sure to look out for the distinctively-striped Swiss Guards that have served as the Pope’s guards since 1506—they’re hard to miss!
Want to study at one of the colleges in Rome?
Contact John Cabot University to learn more.