Top 10 Places To Visit In Holy See

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10 Best Places To See In Holy See

1. Cappella Niccolina

Cappella Niccolina FotoGuy 49057

It’s easy to miss this little gem as you leave the Raphael Rooms and go through the Sala dei Chiaroscuro, where your attention will be on the wooden ceiling. But in the corner is a small doorway to Nicholas V’s Chapel, completely lined in frescoes by the Florentine monk of the early Renaissance, Fra Beato Angelico.

The subjects of the frescoes are the life and martyrdom of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence, and like all Fra Angelico’s work, these paintings speak of a deceptive simplicity, gentleness, and devotion that almost makes you overlook the genius of this talented artist.

2. Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery)

Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery) xiquinhosilva

Even though it was robbed of many of its treasures by Napoleon, the Pinacoteca contains 16 rooms of priceless art from the Middle Ages to contemporary works. Arranged in chronological order, the pictures give an excellent survey of the development of Western painting. Medieval art includes Byzantine, Sienese, Umbrian, and Tuscan paintings, as well as a Giotto triptych and a Madonna and St. Nicholas of Bari by Fra Angelico.

There is a triptych by Filippo Lippi, Coronation of the Virgin by Pinturicchio, and a Madonna by Perugino. A room is devoted to tapestries from cartoons by Raphael; his Madonna of Foligno; and his last painting, the famous 1517 Transfiguration. Portraits include da Vinci’s unfinished St. Jerome, a Titian Madonna, and Caravaggio’s Entombment.

3. Vatican Library

Vatican Library xiquinhosilva

The value of its contents makes the Vatican Library the richest in the world, with 7,000 incunabula (printed before 1501), 25,000 medieval hand-written books, and 80,000 manuscripts that have been collected since the library’s founding in 1450. And that’s just the old books; it doesn’t count all the books it contains that were printed since the end of the 15th century.

In its 70-meter-long hall, built by Domenico Fontana, you can admire some of its most precious treasures – beautiful hand-illuminated Gospels, Biblical codices, early printed books, parchment manuscripts, and ancient scrolls and papyri. The library also has a recently expanded collection of pontifical coins and medals.

4. St. Peter’s Basilica

The centerpiece of the Vatican, the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica was built between the 16th and 18th centuries, replacing earlier structures that began in 326 on what is thought to be where St. Peter was buried. Ironically, it was the selling of indulgences to finance this building in the 16th century that provoked Martin Luther to begin the Protestant Reformation. The work of famous artists begins before you enter the church: in the portico are an equestrian statue of Constantine by Bernini and fragments of a mosaic by Giotto above the main doorway.
It’s from the old church, as are the double bronze doors. The huge nave – 185 meters long and 46 meters tall – rises to a dome 119 meters above and can accommodate a congregation of more than 60,000. Compare it to the dimensions of other great churches marked in the floor.

5. Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square)

The grand Piazza San Pietro in front of St. Peter’s Basilica was laid out by Bernini between 1656 and 1667 to provide a setting where the faithful from all over the world could gather. It still serves that purpose admirably, and is filled to capacity each Easter Sunday and on other important occasions. The large oval area, 372 meters long, is enclosed at each end by semicircular colonnades surmounted by a balustrade with 140 statues of saints.

On either side of the oval are fountains, and in the center is a 25.5-meter Egyptian obelisk brought from Heliopolis by Caligula in AD 39 and set up in his circus.

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