Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Vatican

Good Morning Everyone!  How about a trip to the Vatican?  I guarantee we will be far less crowded this way than when the girls and I were there about a month ago!
First of all  -  Did you know that the Vatican is NOT located in Rome, Italy?  Well, in a sense it isn't.   It's actually located in Vatican City, and it's actually a State, in and of itself.  And that state, which has been described as "The smallest state in the world at the center of the largest spiritual kingdom", is completely surrounded by walls, which were built in the 1500's.  And this is located entirely within the city of Rome, Italy.  Whew! Now that we have location out of the way......let's get to the photos!
The Vatican was our first "official" stop, and I have to say it was the most crowded.  I've never seen so many people! And August is supposedly the "slowest month" of the year because of the heat.  We were literally jammed in like sardines in many of the rooms, which kept photography at a minimum in many of the areas visited.  So....I did the next best thing at the end.....I bought two books, with fabulous pictures, that described in detail what I had just seen!  Oops! Haven't started with the pictures, have I? Here we go!

Colorful to say the least, but don't let that fool you into thinking these guards don't mean serious business!  They're known as the Pope's Swiss Guards and their outfit designed by the Medici dynasty, in the 16th century!  They must be a certain height, and must be between the ages of 25 and 30 years. Their sold purpose is to protect the Pope, the Apostolic Palace, and all entrances to the Vatican.

 Inside St. Peter's Square

 Fabulous architecture!

The Obelisk.  Made of granite, it is over 2,000 years old.  It was originally brought from Alexandria, Egypt, and was moved to its present location, in the center of St. Peter's Square, in 1586.  It took 52 days to erect, and 900 men and 140 horses to move it into place.  At the very top of the monument, Pope Sixtus V placed a relic of the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. 

St. Peter's Basilica
I have a confession to make. I've heard of St. Peter's Basilica for as long as I can remember, but......I did not realize that this is where the Apostle Peter (the Apostle who denied knowing Jesus three times) was martyred. 
Located inside the Basilica (another word for Church), underneath this structure, lies St. Peter.  It is believed that this is where he was actually crucified.  The structure is constructed of marble, gilt and bronze and it was built over a period of about a hundred years, from 1506 to 1616.  The cupola on the top was created by Michelangelo.
Marble status of St. Helen
A rare photo of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - painted by Michelangelo.  He was commissioned by Pope Julius II on 10 May 1508, and was initially supposed to paint a picture of 12 Popes.  However, Michelangelo was determined to create something far more magnificent.  He completed the work after only 4 years, and most of that time was spent lying on his back, in extreme heat and cold, on top of scaffolding! 

The following photographs aren't in any particular order, but they all attest to the grandeur of The Vatican.

Just your run of the mill ceilings!

Now who could this be?  Hmmmm......why, it's camera shy granddaughter Isabel of course!!

 I was careful to photograph only the "clothed" male statues (there weren't very many).  It was a little awkward, but before we went in, Laura explained to Isabel that the statues were works of art that reflected the perfection of the human body.  Needless to say, Isabel took it all in stride.

It was miserably hot this day and I'd loved to have taken a splash in this pool.  However, I decided we didn't need to strain diplomatic relations with Italy quite so soon after our arrival in country!

In my scrapbook (yes, I've already made a scrapbook!!), I celebrated what I called my Gallery of Women, photos of whom follow.  I decided that since women were so ill treated during ancient times, I'd dedicate space to them rather than men!


This is only a fraction of the marble statues located in the Vatican.  It would take a dozen large books to catalog all the statuary that's located within it's walls.  But these are some of my favorites.  It simply amazes me how detailed they are.  You cann literally see veins in the arms and legs!
More amazingly fabulous ceilings and doorways (if these can be called such plebian names)......

 After awhile, your head begins to spin at all the grandeur, and I have to admit that one room literally blends into another.  And we only saw perhaps a tenth of everything, if that much!!  We walked what felt like miles!
Okay, so what was my MOST FAVORITE part of the entire Vatican?  I have to admit - it was the GALLERY OF MAPS!  As luck would have it though, this was the most packed with people and photography was out of the question - at least photography that resulted in recognizable pictures!  So.....I bought a book about it too!  And following are pictures I photographed from that book.  While not as good as the real thing, it at least gives you some idea of what we saw.  Here they are.....

I'm not sure when it's ever this empty, but this gives you the idea.  It's 120 meters long (a meter is just over a yard) and was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni.  This was the Pope who originated the Gregorian calendar, the one we use today, as opposed to the Julian calendar. 

The gallery was created from 1579 to1581, and is primarily the work of 5 artists:  Girolamo Muziano, Cesarre Nebbia, two Flemish brothers Matthew and Paul Bril (who were renouned landscape artists of the time), and Bivanni Antonio Vanosino (a specialist in cartographic renderings). The manager of the project and true director of the whole operation was a renounded cosmographer, geographer and mathematician, Egnazio Danti.

There are 40 maps lining the walls and they depict Italy and its aurrounding islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Tremiti, Elba, Malta and Corfu.

The history of Italy is actually depicted on the maps, so you can see representations of sea and land battles, with troops of horses, encampments and wagons, and also Hanibal's conquering army of elephants!

They are meticulously accurate - every mountain, river, stream, every major city, every village, hamlet and parish - all represented. 

It was said that by visiting the Gallery, Pope Gregory could "walk the length and breadth of Italy without leaving the Palace".

 Rome, Italy
And lastly.........
 The famous spiral staircases!  Built in 1932, by Giuseppe Momo, one is for ascending and one is for descending.  And along the walls are more works of art.  I much preferred going up; my knees did not like going down at all. Quite frankly, the pitch was rather steep.  Fortunately, there are elevators for the handicapped.
This concludes the visit to the Vatican.  It was a wonderful experience, even with all the people, and one I'll never forget.
Until our next stop....... Ciao!