St. Peter's Square, the Vatican, and St. Peter's Basilica
One of my most memorable stops in Rome was of course the Piazza San Pietro and with it, the Basilica, and Vatican City.
This huge square was laid in 1657 and holds the 400,000 worshippers and visitors who crowd this vast area in times of celebration.
There is a colonnade with columns and 140 statues of saints on each side of the piazza. They seem to frame the square.
At the center and head of the square is the Basilica. St. Peter's Basilica is an immense space that holds 60,000 people. It is open daily. This magnificent building holds many works of art in the church proper and in the treasury. Michelangelo's "Pieta" is to the right of the entrance in the Basilica.
Don't miss a visit to the crypt underneath the church where you will see the simple tomb of Pope John Paul II. But most tourists will visit the tomb of St. Peter, the first Pope.
You can take the elevator and walk around inside the dome. You'll find a coffee shop on the roof.
Visit Vatican City. It is the smallest state in the world. I went to the book shop and Vatican Post Office and mailed postcards from their own post office.
Vatican City is the papal residence. The Sistine Chapel was a must-visit for me, as I wanted to see the ceiling in person. Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" was magnificent.
I also went to a general papal audience, which was very rewarding as I had a seat about 8 rows up toward the front.
Make sure you go with a guide or bring a guidebook, as you don't want to miss anything.
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Experiences in Rome - Michelangelo’s Pietà
Licking the final scoop of my stracciatella, I stared up to look at the monumental façade of the ST. Peter’s Basilica and It blew my mind! I could not take my eyes off Michelangelo’s Dome of the Basilica with the statues of the Saints on the top colonnade. But it was Michelangelo’s Pietà in the right aisle amongst all the finest art of the Renaissance, where I lingered longer than usual and sucked from it a strange serenity that lingered along that evening when I walked around Piazza di Spagna, the Roman Parliament and losing myself in the meandering streets of the city which was then lit up in orange and yellow then; map-less and with more supply of gelato in different flavors, it lingered on when I cramped myself on the narrow bed of a visibly miserable hostel room that night, it lingered on over the next four happy days in Rome and it lingers on today even though, I woefully realize that it will probably phase out, like all the most amazing sensations sometimes do… A revisit to the city is never an assurance to get the same sensations back from the first visit. It is only in these brief moments when the goodness of what lies in the outer world focuses and seeps inside us and fills us up which nothing in the world can replace or limit.
Between the crowds and the stairs, it's a bit of work to get there, but the view of Rome and St. Peter's Square from the rooftop of St. Peter's Basilica is breathtaking. From here you can also get to the dome, which provides amazing views of the church itself. The Square is impressive as well, and provides great opportunities to view fantastic architecture and do some people watching.