15.11.2014 - 15.11.2014
Previous Entry: [Vatican City] Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
St Peter's Basilica is considered the most renowned masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, one of the largest churches in the world, and one of the holiest Catholic sites. It is designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Inside St. Peter's Basilica, I felt dwarfed. The sculptures, the walls, distances from one end to another, they were massive. The crowds were massive too. I can't imagine what it is like during peak periods. By the time we went into the basilica, there was Mass, so a section of the basilica near the main altar had been cordoned off. If you say that you're Catholic and there for Mass, they will let you in. Since we're not Catholics, we missed seeing the famous St Peter's Statue and kissing his foot, as the status was also within the cordoned area.
I took many pictures, but again, there's some blurring due to the poor lighting. It is also very difficult to be left in peace to compose a photo properly when large groups of people keep passing by.
Entrance to St Peter's Basilica
The dome of St Peter's Basilica
The Baldachin of Bernini, a bronze canopy supported by four spiral columns decorated with gold. Pilgrims stop here to honour St. Peter.
Monument to Pope Gregory XIII, who issues the Gregorian Calendar. This is a bas-relief carving on a sarcophagus, whereby he is depicted with famous mathematicians and astronomers including the Jesuit Priest Ignatius Danti, Father Clavius of Bamberg and Antonio Lilio of Calabria. The monument was carved by the Milanese sculptor Camillo Rusconi (1658-1728).
Look at how huge it is with me in front for comparison!
The Last Communion of St Jerome Pietro Paolo Cristofari. I was very surprised to learn that this is not a painting but a reproduction in mosaic!
Monument of Pope Gregory XVI. Could only get a side view as the area was cordoned off.
Altar of Our Lady of Succour. The remains of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the great theologians from Cappadocia, are preserved in a porphyry urn beneath the altar.
The Pieta by Michelangelo, probably the world's most famous sculpture of a religious subject. Michelangelo carved it when he was 24 years old (so talented at such a young age!!!) It is placed behind bullet-proof glass because some looney tried to break it with a hammer. There was a huge crowd in front of it and for once I'm glad to be short and small as it allowed me to squeeze through the crowd to get to the front.
La Pieta is about the Virgin Mary cradling the dead Christ in her arms. What makes this stand out from all the other grief-stricken Mother-son depictions is that Mary's face displays sweetness and serenity instead of grief. As though she has faith that Christ will resurrect.
The nave of the basilica.
Monument to Maria Clementina Sobieska. Maria and her husband were considered the Catholic King and Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland and when she died, Pope Benedict XIV commissioned a monument of her to be placed in the basilica.
Statue of Saint Peter of Alcantara, created by Spanish sculptor, Francisco Vergara.
Monument to the Stuarts, the last three members of the royal house of Stuart who were removed from the throne of England because they remained faithful to the Catholic church.
Cherub holy water font for dipping your hands.
There is a very small amount of water inside where you just touch with the tip of your fingers. (basically just copied what others in front did)
The Holy Door marks the end of our tour. This door is cemented shut and only opened on Jubilee years, which is every 50th year. The next one is in 2050!
Near the entrance of St Peter's basilica.
Front of St Peter's Basilica at night.
I came away from all this marvelling over how multi-talented the ancient people are... Many of them excel in more than one form of art, or even in different fields (Math, theology, geology...) and are yet incredibly humble about it. The Vatican Museums and St Peter's Basilica in fact house many artworks of extraordinary quality whose artists are not even widely known.
Before leaving Vatican City, Ivy wanted to post a postcard. It's tradition for her to get a postcard from the country she visits and mail it home from there. I'd read from somewhere that the postal service in Vatican City is more efficient than that of any city in Italy, so we went into the post office. It had several counters to serve customers, and tables and chairs to sit down to write your stuff. It costs 2 euros to mail a postcard though, yikes!
I'm not into writing postcards but Ivy insisted I pose with hers next to the postbox, which looks so cute and vintage.
It rained when we left Vatican City and we're not in the mood for food, so we stopped by a Gelato place called Lemongrass. Ordering a Gelato was pretty confusing. It's not just about the flavours which you can easily point to, but there are various types of presentations like 2 scoops, 3 scoops, cone, cup, etc and all these were not translated into English. It's the same with many other Gelato places we went to in Italy, so if you love your gelato, read up on the menus beforehand.