Friday, October 25, 2013

Vatican City - St. Peter's Basilica

When you're in Rome, might as well visit Vatican City's St. Peter's Basilica. Now, the last time I took geography was when I was in the fourth year of secondary school, and that is roughly about 8 years ago. My good friend Wikipedia said that Vatican City is an independent state. It is not to be confused with The Holy See, although to be honest, I don't even know what or where The Holy See is. All I understand, from this trip, is that if you want to post a postcard using a stamp bought from Vatican City, you cannot post them from Rome.

I think it's true that the older you grow, the more specific your knowledge becomes (in my case, I become more focused with food technology knowledge), and the less you understand about the world.

Anyways, the queue to enter St. Peter's Basilica is always long no matter what time you go. It took us about half an hour to pass through the security gate.

Be warned that you cannot wear anything sleeveless or anything that shows too much of your legs (i.e. mini skirts). If you want to wear them, make sure you have something to cover those parts up, like a scarf or a jacket. You are not allowed to enter without "proper" clothings. This wouldn't be a problem in winter, though.

After the security check, you can choose to enter the main hall or the Cupola (Dome). We thought of going to the dome first, but there was quite a long line and the staff carefully regulates the visitors so it would not be overcrowded.

With very tall ceilings, St. Peter's Basilica was really grandiose and majestic. A lot of the decorations are covered in gold, and I started to wonder if these were sold in black markets or in auctions, and the money goes to charity, how many starved people can be saved. But that's just my wishful thinking. And anyways, feeding them once or twice doesn't really mean saving them if they can't make their own living in the end.

To the right of the entrance lies a golden cross. I'm not sure what the significance is, but many people were queuing to touch the base of the cross.

There are multiple chapels surrounding the main hall of St. Peter's Basilica.

There's also the famous bronze statue of St. Peter, and it was believed that touching its right foot is the same as asking St. Peter to be merciful and open the gates of heaven for you when you die. I'm not a big fan of this kind of superstition because this is like saying that you can be forgiven when you touch a bronze statue. Might as well make a bronze statue of my favorite anime character and keep touching its foot to make me feel safer (and that actually sounds a bit like a gross hobby).

I'd say that you'd spend at least an hour to explore the magnificent sculptures and decorations of St. Peter's Basilica. If you're into details, then expect a much longer visit, because there is also the treasury to see (there is an entrance fee to it).

We finally decided to go up the Cupola of St. Peter's Basilica because I don't think we are going to be back here again in near future. Going up by stairs costs you 5 euros (551 steps), and going by lift + the stairs costs you 7 Euros (320 steps). We chose the one with the elevator.

Even though the number of stairs has been cut by roughly 200 steps, it was still quite a challenge, especially when you have a heavy bag to carry.

The steps are rather tiny, and there were not that many places to rest. I guess in the end it wasn't so bad, but remember that you'll have to climb down 551 steps to exit the dome.

So what's upstairs?

A closer look at the mosaics. There is only one circular platform to walk around before you go back downstairs. I personally think it's not really worth the effort. You'd probably spend about 15-20 minutes up there, gazing at the ceiling...

... or looking down at people down there, thinking "oh, so I was there; look at how tiny everyone is!"

And that's it. Oh, okay, I lied. You can see more things from the top of the Dome. After this scenery, you'll be climbing more stairs (yay!) to see Vatican City and Rome from above.

It's quite a scenic view, although it's a little bit crowded. I can imagine that there would be quite a number of people who were tired from climbing the stairs, decided to take a little breather and enjoy the scenery earned with a lot of effort before going down again. Myself included, of course.

Upon leaving the Basilica, I saw these guards in very, very flashy uniform. It's so eye-striking and I start to wonder why they would make the guards so visible. I mean, if you compare it to the modern-day guards (not necessarily in black suits), they are way too flashy.

Although I must say that I love the color combination. It reminds me of my old secondary school colors, minus the red.

On the way out, don't forget to see the statue of St. Peter holding the keys to the gates of heaven. If you believe in it, or if you love statues, or if you are a tourist and you won't be back here in a while.

Close to St. Peter's Basilica is a rather famous gelato shop called the Old Bridge Gelateria.

It's not as good as I thought it would be. It's a little bit too sweet for me. It's definitely not the best gelato I've ever had, but it's better than the gelato sold on the trucks near touristic sites of Rome.


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