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Wednesday 15 August 2007

CK Goes to Italy – Vatican City (Citta del Vaticano)

Vatican City is considered an independent state as the pope is given full sovereignty through the Lateran Treaty signed between Mussolini and Pius XI in 1929. Therefore, Vatican City is the smallest 'country' with stamps of its own which tourists would send postcards to themselves through the postal service. Vatican City has its own newspaper, radio station, train station as well and even its own army, the Swiss Guards.

I always like to beat the crowd at the tourist attractions, so I woke up very early in the morning to catch a Metro train from Roma Termini to Ottaviano. The walk from Ottaviano to St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro) took about 25 minutes for a slow walker like me. The effort of waking up early pays off with a view of St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) without the crowd. If not for the early hours, the long and winding barricades would have been filled with anxious tourists eager to get inside the Basilica.

The main dome of the Basilica has an oculus to lead the natural light into the interior.

Other then the oculus of the main dome, these windows above the doors induct the sun-ray to lit the Basilica as well.

With the naturally-lit statues, I have the opportunity to catch some shots with dramatic lighting.

The dome above one of the chapels has an oculus to lead the sunlight into the Basilica as well, giving me a picture with mixed lighting.

After seeing the elaborately decorated St. Peter's Basilica, I headed to the Vatican Museum (Musei Vaticani) north of the Basilica. This is a wall painting by Raphael inside one of the Pope chambers.

This is another wall painting by Raphael inside the same Pope chamber, called 'La Scoula d'Atene' or 'The School of Athens.' The two figures near the middle are Plato and Aristotle.

This is a wall painting by Raphael inside a different Pope chamber, depicting Constantine being led by angels to battle in a war.

In another wing of the Vatican Museum, some of the restored wall paintings are displayed in frames. I particularly love this one featuring a lute player.

At some parts of the museum floor, you would have missed some marvellous artwork under your feet if you have not pointed your head downward. This is a actually a mosaic floor which you can step on! Amazing, huh!

When I was about to end my Vatican Museum tour, I need to pass through this double-helix staircase. I submitted this photo to the PAMSC-ICI Paints 'Colours and Forms in Architecture' Photography Contest and won a 2nd prize. :-)

This is a Swiss Guard in a very comical uniform which is believed to be designed by Michelangelo. Do you think so?

The day I visited St. Peter's Basilica was a special day where I witnessed some of the band members preparing for the marching-in of a special mass.

I did not have the chance to climb up the Basilica's dome on my first visit, so I decided to go for a second visit and I saw the main dome up close.

Climbing up the main dome granted me this spectacular view of the St. Peter's Square early in the morning without the crowd.

I can also look at the Vatican Museum from a higher viewpoint on top of the main dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

That's all for my coverage on Vatican City. I hope that you can make it there one day to admire the beautiful artwork and architecture. :-)

If you would like to read my other posts on Italy, these are the links:

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