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Type:
Historic
The Vatican's post office The Vatican's post office was established on the 11th February 1929 and it has continued to offer its own postal services ever since then. The first equipment ... morethe post office used was donated by the Italian government. First, the Vatican's post office services were only provided within the Vatican City. But the services expanded and it became possible to start sending mail throughout Rome after the Vatican City had became a member of the Universal Postal Union on the 1st of June 1929 and signed a postal agreement with Italy on the 29th of July of the same year. The official stamps of Vatican City are produced under the authority of the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican City State

Do you still use "snail mail?" even if you don't, a postcard with a Vatican stamp is a lovely gesture to your family and/or friends. The Vatican’s Post Office is open to everyone who wishes to send mail both within and outside Vatican City. The office is open during most part of the days and also depending on the season. During winter season, the opening hours of the Vatican Post Office are from 8:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.; Monday to Friday and from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Saturday. During summer season, the opening hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Monday to Saturday. The office remains closed on Sundays. The Vatican's post office also has its branches in St. Peters Square and in the Vatican Museums.

Apart from the usual postage stamps sold by the Vatican's post office, you can also find some special stamps at the Vatican post office. These stamps encompass features related to specific occasions. For example, during the resignation period of Pope Benedict XVI in February 2013, the Vatican's post office issued special cancellation stamps to mark the end of the Pope’s papacy. This special postmark showed Pope Benedict XVI in the foreground with his arms raised in a greeting. In the background of this special stamp was dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and it was encrypted with the words: “Pope Benedict XVI Renounces the Petrine Ministry. Vatican post, 28.2.2013,” written in Latin.

The Vatican also sells some special types of stamps and envelopes that are made only when there is no Pope (Sede Vacanta). These stamps are considered by the Vatican's post office as “special stamps” because they are issued only when the Pope is not in his place. In most cases, these stamps are very high in value and purchased in bulk by stamp collectors not just for economic value but also because they are more valuable since they symbolize a very crucial period for the Roman Catholic Church. 

Funnily enough, in Italy many Romans travel to the Vatican City Post Office to post their critical letters as a result of their distrust for the Italian postal systems. The Vatican's post office sends millions of letters every year and its services are more reliable. In fact the Vatican City’s postal system was to be “one the best postal systems in the world”, by the Universal Postal Union. The Vatican's postal code is 00120.
Type:
Attraction
Cultural
Historic
Church
St. Peter's Dome St. Peter’s Dome is the dome that covers St. Peter's basilica, one of the most exceptional religious and historic sites in Rome, Italy. Rome is a city of wonders in ... moreterms of architectural buildings as well as its natural landscape. St. Peter’s Square, just outside the basilica, is where the most important Catholic Masses and occasions are celebrated. It is here where the newly elected pope appears to the rest of the world for the first time. St. Peter’s basilica also houses several papal tombs, among many other Catholic relics. This site is incredible, both in it interior and exterior.

Another incredible feature of St. Peter’s Basilica is the Dome. This is the largest dome in the world and it is a marvel of architecture. The dome is also referred to as the cupola. The dome ascends above the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica and it is extravagantly embelished with mosaic and ornaments. It is supported by four main structural piers with a height of 120m and a perimeter of 71m; starting from the ground to the roof of the lantern.

There are huge letters on the gold background, from St. Veronica to St. Helen, stating: “Hinc una fides mundo refulgent” (From here a single faith shines throughout the world); and from St. Longinus to St. Andrew: “Hinc sacerdotii unitas exoritur” (From here is born the unity of the priesthood). There are several other verses as well and all these gigantic letters (2 meter high) are lit by the light from 16 large windows.

The dome is divided into 16 ribs and into many segments by majestic figures on 6 ascending concentric levels. The levels are as follows, starting at the bottom: busts of the 16 popes buried in the basilica; the majestic figures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, and other Apostles; the angels bearing the instruments of Jesus’ Passion (in the rectangular frames); the faces of cherubim and seraphim in circular medallions; the angels, the custodians of St. Peter’s tomb; and additional faces of winged angels.

The most interesting experience is climbing up the dome. It has 551 stairs and that is why if you are not very energetic it is recommended to take a lift; or else you will spend hours just climbing the dome. It costs around 7 Euros to take the lift. Once you reach the basilica, you will see a queue to climb the dome; this is because there are many people climbing up the dome every day. Queue in the line and get your climbing ticket. After getting the ticket, you will be guided either to the stairs or the lift depending on your choice. Paying for the lift is worthwhile as after a short while you will already be at the top of the dome. You can get outside the dome, where you can see a panoramic view of ALL of Rome. It is a spectacular view with magnificent and breath-taking sites.

If you are planning to visit Rome, put St. Peter’s Dome in your list “must see” sites. There are guided tours by professionals who will take you to all places in and outside the dome and give you comprehensive explanation of every detail of the dome. Climbing St. Peter’s Dome is a lifetime experience.
Type:
Attraction
Cultural
Historic
Museum
The Raphael rooms (Vatican museums) The Raphael rooms (Stanze di Raphael) are four rooms which were used as the residence of the popes between 1507 and 1585. The first pope to use ... morethe Raphael rooms as his residence was Pope Julius II. Pope Gregory XIII was the last Pope to use these rooms as his residence. Today, the Raphael rooms are part of the Vatican museum.

The Raphael rooms form part of the apartment located on the second floor of the Pontifical Palace that was first chosen by Pope Julius II della Rovere as his own residence and was later used by his successors for the same purpose. The decoration of the rooms was done by Raphael and his pupils between 1508 and 1524. Although Raphael died in 1520, his pupils continued with the project until its completion in 1524.

The Raphael rooms are: Room of Constantine, Room of Heliodorus, Room of the Segnatura and Room of the Fire in the Borgo.

Room of Constantine: this is the largest room of the four Raphael rooms. It is the room which is dedicated to the victory of Christianity over paganism. The frescoes contained in this room represent the struggles from the life of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Some of the features in the Room of Constantine include: the Vision of the Cross, the Baptism of Constantine, the Battle of Milvian Bridge and the Donation of Constantine.

Room of Heliodorus: this is the private chamber that symbolizes the heavenly protection provided by Christ to the Church. The room contains four paintings, namely: the Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, the Mass at Bolsena, the Meeting of Pope Leo I and Attila, and the Deliverance of Saint Peter from Prison.

Room of the Segnatura: it was the study room of Pope Julius II. The room symbolizes bringing into harmony the spirits of Antiquity and Christianity. Here is where most of the papal documents were signed and sealed among these were: The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, the School of Athens, the Parnassus, the Cardinal Virtues, among others.

Room of the Fire in the Borgo: it shows Pope Leo IV making the sign of the cross to put out a raging fire in the Borgo. During the reign of Pope Leo X, this room was used as a music room. Most of the frescos in the room portray events that took place from the lives of Pope Leo III and Pope Leo IV. Some of the paintings in this room include: the Oath of Leo III, the Coronation of Charlemagne, Fire in the Borgo and the Battle of Ostia.

The Raphael rooms are decorated with paintings that make them look magnificent. The rooms are located a few steps away from the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Cathedral. The next time you visit Rome, pay a visit to these rooms and you will be astonished by the paintings within them. The Raphael rooms are one of the most visited parts of the Vatican museums and they have a grand history which is significant for the Roman Catholic Church.
Type:
Attraction, Historic
The Fountains in St. Peter's Square St. Peter’s Square is one of the most famous venues in Rome, Italy. The square is located in front of St. Peter’s Basilica within Vatican City. ... moreSeveral special Masses are celebrated in St. Peter's square during various special dates on the Roman Catholic Church's calendar. It is at St. Peter’s Square where a newly elected pope appears to the rest of the world for the first time. Other special Masses celebrated at St. Peter’s Square include: Easter and Christmas Masses.

St. Peter’s Square is known for its spectacular beauty and the fountains may be listed among its many outstanding features. Most of these fountains were constructed during ancient days and they have contributed ever since to the beauty of the square. The fountains have been renovated and are well conserved making them worth visiting if you are visiting the Vatican and Rome.

The following are some of the fountains that can be found in St. Peter’s Square:

Maderno Fountain: this fountain was redesigned by architect Carlo Maderno after being commissioned by Pope Paul V. The design is that of an octagonal base with a large irregular basin at the top. It also has small columns and steps which hold water. The new design is also comprised of a large lower stone vasque, which the old fountain had possessed also as well as four stone scrolls. The top of the fountain is a cap in shape of a mushroom, which is covered with stone scales. Water from the top of the fountain pours down over the top of the upper vasque. The fountain was designed in such a way that it did not operate by pumps but purely by gravity. This was facilitated by the fact that the source of water for the Maderno Fountain was higher than the fountain itself. This caused the water to shoot upwards by the power of gravity. In 1641, this fountain was said to be the most beautiful fountain in the whole of Europe.

Bernini Fountain: it is located on the southern side of St. Peter’s Square. It was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1667 and 1677. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Clement X. Bernini built the fountain for ten years and its design followed earlier designs.

These fountains continuously give St. Peter’s Square a spectacular atmosphere in which the sounds of trickling water made by these fountains can be heard from a distance. Therefore as you approach St. Peter’s Square, you will start hearing the relaxing sounds supplied by the fountains’ waters. The fountains have remained a great tourist attraction and are among the most beautiful fountains in Rome, Italy.

Therefore if you are planning to visit Rome, do not miss out on a visit St. Peters square and its fountains. They are among the tallest and most beautiful fountains in the Vatican City. You will meet attendants who will give a brief history of the fountains and explain every detail about these fountains. If you are allowed to enter St. Peter’s square then there are no restrictions on viewing and taking photos of these fountains. The fountains also discharge very clean water and are well maintained.
Type:
Attraction, Historic
The Apostolic Palace The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the reigning pope. The palace is located in Vatican City; North-East of St. Peter’s Basilica and next to the ... moreBastion of Nicholas V and the Palace of Gregory XIII. The Apostolic Palace is also referred to as the Vatican Palace, the Papal Palace, the Sacred Palace and also the Palace of the Vatican. The construction of the current Apostolic Palace started on the 30th of April 1589 during the reign of Pope Sixtus V and it was completed by his successors Pope Urban VII, Pope Innocent XI and Pope Clement VIII.

Originally, the person in charge of the activities at the Apostolic Palace was the prefect of the Apostolic Palace. However this position only existed between the 15th century and the 1800s. The Papal States had some economic crises and as a way of saving some money, the position of the prefect of the Apostolic Palace was reviewed and a committee was created by Leo XIII to run the palace.

The Apostolic Palace is a complex building comprising of several Papal Apartments, the Vatican Museums, some of the Catholic Church’s government offices, the Vatican Library, and a number of both private and public chapels among other buildings. Generally, there are over 1000 rooms within the Apostolic Palace. The palace houses offices of different functions including administrative offices that are not necessarily related to the Pope's duties. Some of the renowned rooms within the Apostolic Palace include the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael’s Rooms.

Therefore, despite the Apostolic Palace's name, it is not merely the pope's residence. It is also used for other administrative functions of the Holy See. For instance, there are several administrative offices within the Apostolic Palace which are used to administer government functions of the Vatican State. In many ways the Apostolic Palace can be compared with the White House, which is the term used to describe the general presidential administration of the United States. Hence the Apostolic palace is not only used for religious purposes but for the Vatican's general administration including the exercising of its political, economic and social responsibilities as a State.

The Apostolic Palace has several outstanding features and it has become one of the top tourist attractions in Rome, Italy. The palace has within it several beautiful gardens, fishponds, museums, natural conservatories, cattle premises (which produce plenty of milk to serve the whole palace) and a library. It is also the home to the Vatican Observatory.

There are several residences meant for the reigning pope and the Apostolic Palace is among the places where the Pope spends most of his time. once a new pope is elected, he takes over the Apostolic Palace as his residence. Some of the popes liked to spend time reflecting in the gardens within the Apostolic Palace. The Apostolic is also where several administrative meetings of the Vatican take place.
Type:
Attraction, Historic, Museum
Castel Sant Angelo Castel Sant Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for theEmperor Hadrian but was later transformed into a big castle where popes couldseek refuge at turbulent ... moretimes. The Castel Sant Angelo is located on the rightside of the Tiber and its construction startedin 130 AD and was completed in 139 AD, during the reign of Emperor AntoniusPius who was Hadrian’s successor. At the time which the Castel Sant Angelo was constructedit was the tallest building in Rome, Italy.

The Castel Sant Angelo has undergone several changes basedon the different purposes that it served throughout history. First it was usedas a mausoleum and then it became part of the city wall. Later on it was turnedinto a fortress before being used a papal residence. Afterwards it was used asa barracks and prison and currently it is a national museum. The museum is richin history and it contains the remains of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and thoseof his successors up to the emperor Caracalla.

Castel Sant Angelo is comprised of a square 89 m wide base on acylindrical colonnaded drum with a diameter of 64 m. The mausoleum wasconnected to the Vatican Cityby a bridge (Pons Aelius). Today the passageway that connects Castel SantAngelo and the Vaticanstill exists. This bridge is presently known as the Ponte Sant Angelo.

The Castel Sant Angelo is a spectacular structure. Thebuilding is divided into five floors. Floor I is made of the famous windingramp which is approximately 400 feet long (this is a common Roman construction). FloorII, which is also known as the floor of the prisons contained horrible prisoncells as well as stores for oil and wheat. Floor III, also known as themilitary floor, has two large courtyards. Floor IV which is known as the papalfloor contains the loggia of Julius II, by Bramante, and a papal apartmentconsisting of superbly decorated rooms. Floor V, the top floor, has a bigterrace with apanoramic view and a statue of the Archangel Michael made of bronze.

The incredible statue depicting the Archangel Michael placed at the topof the fortress was sculpted by the Flemishsculptor and architect Pieter Verschaffelt. This statue replaced an older one with the same theme. The previous statue was made ofmarble but after being damaged it was replaced by the current bronze statue. This statue depicts the Archangel Michael who is said to haveappeared on top of the fortress in the year 590 and miraculously ended thesevere plague that had infected the city of Rome.

Castel Sant Angelo is visited by millions of tourists fromall over the world every year and it has become one of the favorite tourists’destinations. Being a home to the National Museum of Castel Sant Angelo, thesite has remained a source of valuable historical resources and manyresearchers visit it every day. There is a lot of art and architecture in andaround Castel Sant Angelo from which you can learn much regarding Rome’s history, religionand architecture.
Type:
Attraction, Historic
The Gandolfo Castel Gandolfo Castel is a town located 24 km southeast of Rome, Italy. The GandolfoCastel is on the Alban Hills, overlooking Lake Albano. The town has a totalpopulation ... moreof approximately 8840 people, and it is said to be one of the mostscenic towns in Italy. The Gandolfo Castel hosts the Apostolic Palace of CastleGandolfo, which is used as a summer residence and vacation retreat for thePope. The Gandolfo Castel is located within the borders of Castle Gandolfo, butit has extraterritorial status as one of the properties of the Holy See andtherefore it is not under the jurisdiction of Italy.

Themain source of water for the Gandolfo Castel is Lake Albano, which is oftencalled Lake Castel Gandolfo. This place is surrounded by several summerresidences, villas and cottages; some of which were built during the 17thcentury. The Gandolfo Castel also houses the Stadio Olimpico, which staged rowingevents during the Rome Olympics. There are also several archeological siteswithin The Gandolfo Castel, among them Emissario del Lago Albano and theremains of the Villa of Domitian. It is also an area full of artistic interest,such as the Collegiate Church of St. Thomas of Villanova, which was designed byGian Bernini Lorenzo.

Justlike most towns in Rome, Italy, Gandolfo Castel is also a town full ofactivities. There are many events that take place in the town on variousoccasions. There is a local market which takes place on Friday mornings, manyfestivals, theatres, artwork, schools, archeological sites, canoeing, golf,rugby, football, etc. The town offers many hotels which are constantly full ofvisitors. Some of the fabulous hotels in The Gandolfo Castel and near the towninclude Hotel Castel Gandolfo, Hotel Castel Vecchio, Hotel Villa Degli Angeli, andmore. The abundance of hotels displays the prominence of the town as a holidaydestination. Visitors frequent the town, especially during summer, to enjoy thefresh air, cool atmosphere and spectacular views in the town and thesurrounding areas. Limited parking for tourists is available within the boundsof Gandolfo Castel.

Butmore important to the Catholic Church and its followers, the Gandolfo Castel isthe Papal residence during summer. The Pope stays in this place during summertimes, and also holds occasional special meetings with his delegates at thesite. Recently, during the election of the new Pope following the resignationof Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Benedict retired to the Gandolfo Castel during theelection process.

Despitethe fact that Castel Gandolfo is a town full of tourism, agriculture, games,art, and other activities; the town hold a great importance to the Catholic believersas it is the Pope's second home and the place where he spends most of his timeoutside Vatican City.
Type:
Attraction
Cultural
Historic
Museum
Church
The Vatican Necropolis The Vatican Necropolis is located under the Vatican City, at a depth of 5 to 12 meters below Saint Peter’s Basilica. Major archaeological excavations took place ... moreunder Saint Peter’s in the years 1940 to 1949, with the sponsorship of the Vatican. This excavation work was done at the request of the then Pope Pius XI who wanted to be buried very close to Peter the Apostle. St Peter is believed to have been the first Pope. It is said that he was martyred in a Roman Circus and that his remains were then buried at the site of the Vatican. These excavations were done so as to locate the actual site of the grave of St. Peter, which had been assumed to be under St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Necropolis of the Vatican is also home to the Tomb of the Julii family (The family of Julius Ceaser). During Ancient times people were not allowed to be buried within the walls of the city of Rome and this led to the establishment of the Vatican necropolis. The Vatican necropolis was originally established as a burial place built on the southern slope of the Vatican Hill. The Vatican hill was located next to a circus built by Emperor Caligula.

There have been some reconstructions done in the Vatican necropolis including one reconstruction in the area around the grave of the Apostle Peter. Some archaeologists who were involved in the early excavations of the Vatican necropolis in search of St. Peter’s grave suggested that at the time of the construction of Constantinian basilica, the remains of the Apostle Peter were removed from his original grave and placed in the opening.

Every year, millions of people from different parts of the world visit the Vatican for various reasons. A big percentage of these people visit the Vatican necropolis, the place where Peter the Apostle and other popes are believed to have been buried. This site is one of the holiest places in Rome. Saint Peter was crucified on Nero’s circus in the center of St. Peter’s Basilica and his body was moved and buried to a cemetery. According to history, this cemetery is said to be the current Vatican necropolis .Many people who take a tour of Vatican appreciate the conservancy of this place.There are guided tours which can be arranged in advance online in different languages. You will be taken through the chambers until you reach the Tomb of Saint Peter.In the tours you will enjoy magnificent monuments, inscriptions and works of art which symbolize the history of Christianity and the City of Vatican. A tour of Vatican necropolis will last approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. Please note that only a small group of people of between ten and fifteen is allowed in at a time. On a tour of the area you can also enjoy the view of Vatican hill, the Vatican Gardens, museums, St. Peter’s Square, and the Apostolic Palace, among other monuments.
Type:
Attraction
Cultural
Historic
Museum
The Vatican Museums exhibit artworks from the Roman Catholic Church's Impressive collections. The works were collected by the church throughout the centuries and the collections include ... moresome of the most famous Renaissance masterpieces and sculptures from ancient Rome and Greece. The popes were great patrons of art and among the first sovereigns who opened their private art collections to the public.

Several sculptures collected by Pope Julius the second were the first items in what was to become the Vatican Museums collection. The Vatican Museums, as seen today are comprised of several pontifical galleries and museums that were assembled by various popes. Several masterpieces by Caravaggio, Raphael, Fra Angelico, Giotto, Nicolas Poussin the renown Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo, the Raphael rooms, and the impressive collection of maps are all part of the vast collection. They are the main attractions of the Vatican Museums and are considered treasures of immense value. There are also galleries displaying modern Christian religious art. Watch our 3-D virtual tours on www.vatican.com to see with your own eyes some of the Vatican's most astounding treasures including the Sistine Chapel.

The Vatican museums also have changing exhibitions, special programs with lectures on Thursdays and many different kinds of guided tours, some specially suited for children. In the educational tours for children, the children get to have a close look at some artworks and even create small "masterpieces" of their own. In addition The Vatican Museums have tours for the deaf and the blind upon request and pre- booking. If you are in need of these tours you will also get two free tickets for entry.

In order to skip the long entrance queues if you're visiting the Vatican Museums without a guide, it's best to pre-book your Vatican Museum tickets online. When booking online you will need to choose the time of entry. If you haven't booked online it's best to try and come in the afternoon, after 12:00. Take into account that you'll need at least three hours just to see the main attractions. The Vatican museums are the biggest museum complex in the world. Upon entry take into account that you may need to wait about 20 minutes to get through the security check as all visitors need to pass through metal detectors at the security check point. The entrance to the Vatican Museums is on Viale Vaticano.

Opening hours for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel ticket offices are Monday to Saturday: 9 am to 4 pm. The Museums close at 6 pm. You must exit the rooms half an hour before closing time. The Vatican museums are closed on Sundays apart for the last Sunday of every month when there is free entrance to the museums from 9 am to 12.30 pm. On these Sundays the Vatican museums close at 2 pm.

Ticket Tarrifs: The price for a ticket to the Vatican Museums is 16 Euros and reduced price is 8 Euros. The added price for booking your Vatican museum tickets online is 4 Euros.
Public traansportaion to the Vatican Museums

By Metro: line A to Ottaviano-San Pietro Musei Vaticani station
by bus: number 49, stops right in front of the Museums Entrance.492, 990, Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni. 32, 81, 982, Piazza del Risorgimento, end of the line.
by tram: 19 to Piazza del Risorgimento.
Type:
Church
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