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jOSiAh's ^_~ Haven

Vatican City

The Vatican City is a sovereign state, independent of Italy since 1929, and is supposedly the smallest independent state in the world.

The vatican city walls.

The highly-trained-for-battle Papal Swiss Guard in their costumes uniform said to be designed by Michelangelo. They didn't allow me pose with them because I was not a little child o(>O<)o ...

St. Peter's Basilica, along with the Egyption obelisk in the middle of St. Peter's Square. St. Peter's Basilica is supposedly the largest church in the world.

The first thing I did was to climb the cupola (dome). There is supposedly a long queue for this. Since I was there on a Sunday evening, there was barely any queues! Whoopie! Anyhow, it was either 4 euros to climb 551 steps or 7 euros to take an elevator and climb 320 steps. I initially thought that I would be too old to climb up all the way, but I changed my mind at the very last second (literally, right at the counter) though... it's only 231 additional steps... what a wise decision that was...

The 200+ steps were not so difficult at all. In fact, it was a breeze... the steps are big and wide, and it actually became quite monotonous to after a while... Luckily I did not waste my money on the elevator... Finally, at the end of the 231 steps, you will reach the base of the dome (which is also where the elevator stops).

You can enter and look down from the drum (base of dome) to see the interiors of the church. You might also witness Mass being celebrated (it was a Sunday evening). Looking up, you can see the dome from the inside.

Anyway... the remaining 320 steps were horrendous.

Since you are literally inside the dome, you will be climbing up various oddly-shaped (curved, slanted) steps... you will have to tilt your head and body at times to adapt to the curved walls (it's even more tilted than it looks in the pictures!)... most people were already dead tired before reaching the top...

After reaching the top, you can get a view of St. Peter's Square... Note the statues of Jesus and the 12 Apostles looking out into the square (Wikipedia says that they're statues of Jesus, John the Baptist, and 11 apostles... I'm not sure...)

From the picture below, you can see the huge (my guidebook says it's 7km worth of galleries), famous Vatican Museums, which I did not visit --

(You: What? Going to the Vatican City without visiting the museum? Blasphemy!!)

Haha... the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, and I would be busy touring Ancient Rome the next day... and I'm definitely not queueing up in the wee hours of the morning... and when I say queue, it means 4-to-5-persons-in-a-row queues (>.<) Neither do I have time to visit it in the evening... well some other time then, when I am old enough to appreciate art better (^,^)

After climbing down from the dome... you can visit the Papal Tombs.

Of course, I saw Pope John Paul II's tomb, and also the tomb believed to be St. Peter's (first pope, one of the Apostles). Photographs are not allowed for both though.

Here is a view inside the cathedral...

Michelangelo's Pietà in the cathedral.

The preserved bodies of Pope Innocent XI, Pope St Pius X, Pope John XXIII can also be found within the basilica, at their respective altars. I''m not showing the pictures here out of respect (^,^)

Time for some fresh air in St. Peter's Square. According to my guide book, the curved colonnades are made up of 284 travertine columns and 88 pilasters topped by 140 statues of saints. If you look carefully, there are four perfectly aligned columns in each row.

If you step on the little circle where those people are standing in the picture above (I've marked it with a red arrow)... you will get this...

The quadruple rows of column will appear magically as a single column! Neat. I'm impressed!

About 5-10 minutes' walk from St. Peter's Square is Castel Sant' Angelo, built as a family mausoleum and became a refuge for popes in times of trouble.

I will leave you with an inspiring scene taken from inside St. Peter's Basilica at 9am... amazing! (^,^)

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