Mirabilia Urbis: Rome Walking Tours

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Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica

The Vatican Museums' collections are now housed in the Palaces where Popes, from the 1400s on, used to live, dine, keep their dens and private libraries, study late into the night, and entertain. The Palaces are not unified architecturally; they are the product of hundreds of years of changing tastes and styles, and a reflection of unfolding needs and concerns. The "Cortile della Pigna" or Courtyard of the Pinecone (in the photo on the left) proves this point!


During our visit, we'll focus on a marvelous ancient Greek and Roman sculpture gallery, founded by  Pope Julius II in the early 1500s.  Many visitors will recognize Laocoon, the Trojan high priest, as he attempts to disentangle himself and his two sons from a pair of serpents. This ancient sculpture is just one of many world-famous artworks in the Vatican collections.  Others will be stunned by the so-called Apollo Belvedere, an ancient Romna sculpture which inspired later artists like Michelangelo and Bernini!


Moving on to other splendidly decorated rooms and hallways, we can pit-stop in Raphael's rooms (if time and energy allow). We finish off the Museums with a visit to the spellbinding Sistine Chapel.

Sensory overload will compel us to take a deep breath before plunging into the largest church in the world, Saint Peter's Basilica. Here we learn about the history of the Basilica, which is also home to Michelangelo's Pieta'.

Tickets for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are easily pre-purchased to avoid the risk of standing in line.  For more information about pre-purchasing surcharges, please see "the costs" section of this webpage.  Children are eligible for a student discount together with young adults (under the age of 26) with a valid student ID.  Saint Peter's Basilica is free of charge.