Transcendence, Sore Feet and Grandeur at St. Peter’s Basilica – Vatican City, Italy

Following my last post on the Vatican Musuems, take this one as a continuation in both spirit and layout form.

What does it feel like to be illuminated from the inside out, to feel like your mouth will never fully close from all the grandeur around you and to not even care that your feet are screaming bloody murder with each and every step. Take a visit to St Peters Basilica after spending the previous day walking all over Florence and you’re almost guaranteed to feel the same way.

After finishing up in the museum, our small tour group wound it’s way towards what would be the grand finale, St. Peters Basilica.

Fun fact, while this canopy over the alter may look massive, let me assure it it’s even larger than you would think. Bernini’s baldacchino is 96 feet tall and contains about 100,000 pounds of bronze… thats right, bronze. A reason it might not look as large as it really is would be because the dome above it is a staggering 452 feet.

There is never a moment when you are not just standing here in awe, utterly dwarfed by it all.

To say this was a magnificent end to a morning full of wonder would be an understatement. It’s hard to fully state just how beautiful, awe-inspiring and humbling it is to visit a place like the Vatican and know you’ve only seen maybe 10% of all that is to see. I have a friend who’s been here four times already and is still ready to go back at a moments chance and if I lived any distance shorter, I would be the same. As it is, I don’t know when i’ll be back but I know with a fervent assurance I could spend a solid week here, day in at day break and day out at sunset and still feel there was much to see and learn.

~m

A Bounty of Overwhelming Glory at the Vatican Musuems- Vatican City, Italy

There are hundreds of places I’d love to see before I shuffle off this mortal coil, some of them as specific as single bookstore in a city and some as all encompassing as a whole continent. Rapa Nui, Singapore, St Petersburg, Prague are just a few, and Vatican City was up there among the very top, at least until I was able to mentally marked it off. It was as amazing as i’d ever expected it to be and to say i’m not already planning a way to go back and be able to spend a solid week just walking through the museums lengthy corridors would be an enormous falsehood.

Full disclosure- if you’re looking for a post about the history of the Vatican, it’s influence and the way it differentiates from the Holy See, you probably would do well to click elsewhere.
I thought long and hard about how I would put together these photos in a blog post, both because I don’t consider myself a Christian and because i’m not a person who can easily walk the line between fawning over the gorgeous architecture and the millions of wondrous treasures housed here while also remembering the at times incredibly bloody history of Catholicism.

So, rather than a blog post full of travel writing, think of this as my photo journal of my visit to the Vatican Museums.

At times you look up so much, you almost forget to look around you, and that would be a monumental mistake, given all the cabinets that line the miles of corridors here filled to almost overflowing with relics, art, items of curiosity and just literal treasure. 

If you take a tour of the Vatican Museums or even if you go independently, you will also most certainly end up visiting the Sistine Chapel. If you noticed, there are no photos of it here in this post and you might be tempted to think we didn’t visit it but the truth is with the tour we took, we visited it twice. Once before general opening hours and where we got to sit for almost an hour marveling at it’s beauty and speaking in hushed tones when we spoke at all and again later when we were doubling back on our way to St Peters Basilica . There are no photos however, because I didn’t take any as it’s forbidden to take video or photographs and considering where we were, it wasn’t hard to follow that rule, no matter the temptation.

I would highly recommend allocating a full morning to visiting the Vatican Museums and St Peters Basilica and wearing the most comfortable shoes you own as there is just so much to see and an enormous space to see it all in. Be prepared for crowds but know that there is more than enough to see to make it worth it.

~m