Thursday, March 31, 2016

St. Peter's Basilica

Just before you enter St. Peter's Basilica there is an ornate ceiling welcoming you in. As you enter the size of the size of the basilica hits you. Walking forward on your right is Michelangelo's Pietà, the only work he ever signed. It went on tour to New York for the 1964-65 World Fair. The poor statue has had a hard time in the past when a mentally disturbed geologist walked into the chapel and hacked at the sculpture while shouting "I am Jesus Christ; I have risen from the dead!" He removed Mary's arm, knocked off a chunk of her nose, chipped one of her eyelids. She looks pretty good after her restoration and is now well protected behind glass.

The church is one of the largest in the world and was consecrated November 18, 1626. It is 730 feet long and 500 feet wide. It's height is 448 feet.  It's just so massive and the ceilings are so high and ornate. Everywhere you look there is some detail and tomb of a Pope.

Below was the one of the things I found most interesting in the church. It is St. Peter's Baldachin which is a large Baroque sculpted bronze canopy which stands at 20 feet which is like a six story building. It's huge. It fits nicely in the big church. Designed by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who has featured in a few of my blog posts now with his sculpted works.  The source of the bronze used to make the structure is unknown with some saying it came from the bronzed roof of the Pantheon though Pope Urban said the bronze from the Pantheon was used to make canons and the bronze for the baldachin came from Venice.

More Barberini Bee's in the photo below on the baldachin.

Leaving the basilica I could not resist taking a photo of the Swiss Guard. I felt bad but I am sure they are more than used to getting their photo taken by all the tourists and pilgrims that find their way to the church. I find their costumes funny but I am sure I would not find them very funny if they were to get mad at me. If you want to be a Swiss Guard you must be single, Catholic and Swiss, of course.

I headed out onto St. Peter's Square which was designed by Bernini. The obelisk was erected a hundred years before Bernini created the square.

I had to find the West/Ponente tile that is in St. Peter's Square that is featured in the Dan Brown's Angel and Demons novel/film.

I left the Vatican, adding a new country to my list of countries I have visited as the Vatican City is the smallest.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vatican Museum Tour

The morning after my amazing food tour, I got up super early to catch the metro to the Vatican. Like the food tour, I decided to go with The Roman Guy. I booked their "Privileged Entrance" Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica tour, which costs $89.00. The tour may seem pricey but I thought it was worth the price. It is a small group tour and it was just me and a couple from the US.  Our guide Raffaella took us into the special queue to get access to the museum at 8 versus the normal time of 9.

Normally the tour goes into St. Peter's Basilica but Pope Francis was holding an audience in the square as it the Year of Mercy. The Basilica was closed for the audience but would reopen later on. When I arrived in the morning there was a lot of people but the square had been fenced off.

Back to the tour, we stepped inside the museum and hurried through it to get to the Sistine Chapel to get to be inside it with less of a crowd. It was beautiful. I do suggest googling it as there are no photos allowed to be taken inside of it therefore I have no photos. They are very strict on the no photos and there were guards shushing people and telling people to not use their cameras. I walked around with my head craned up to the ceiling to see Michelangelo's masterpiece.

The above photo shows what the Sistine Chapel was apparently painted like before Michelangelo got a hold of it.

Raffaella was an amazing source of information as she guided us through the museum. It was really nice to be in such a small group as we were able to ask her questions about anything we saw. I was very happy snapping away taking photos and looking around taking everything in. I don't know a whole lot about the Vatican so I was taking in all the new information and really enjoyed learning about it.

We entered the courtyard where a large bronze pine cone stands. It was once part of a fountain in Ancient Rome next to a Temple of Isis.

This large bronze ball is a version of the Sphere Within Sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro.  Raffaella showed us a cool trick by crossing over the little fence surrounding it and spinning it gently.

The Vatican Museum is one of the largest museums in the world, there are so many items, paintings, sculptures to look at. The museum is over 500 years old, having been opened in 1506 of course I am sure it did not look like it does now but still 500 years old is old.

How I felt wandering around looking at all the cool and beautiful things in the Vatican Museum ^

One of the things I really liked was the false moldings on the ceilings. In the above photo the wall is painted to look like it is molded. We entered a section of the museum displaying maps of sections of Italy. I really liked this section and Raffaella took a photo of me and the couple that joined my tour in front of the more detailed map of Italy.

Moving on we entered the areas of the Vatican Museum that Rafael had painted in. It was amazing to see the beautiful colours used in his work and the amount of detail each fresco contained.

Apparently this was Rafael's girlfriend. ^

Sylvester Stallone is that you? ^

Rafael second from the right. ^

I saw this painting in the newer gallery where they host contemporary religious paintings, I thought it was quite amusing. The painting is the Trip to the Ecumenical Council by Fernando Botero.

We ended the tour by the little cafe the Vatican Museum has and parted ways with Raffaella. We were going to wait it out to enter the basilica. Eating something resembling a pizza pocket before I headed to the Sistine Chapel to try and find a seat and wait for the doors to the basilica to open.

Finally the doors were open and we slipped through a corridor, down through a section of the outside and around to the front of the basilica, entering the queue at the front so we did not have to wait at the back of a very long line. The place was very busy as there had been a lot of people there to attend the audience of Pope Francis.

But St. Peter's Basilica deserves a post all to itself as it is very beautiful. I hope you enjoyed the photos of my tour of the Vatican Museum.