If you go to Rome, you have to visit the Vatican Museums and spend a few hours admiring their extraordinary collections. But viewing all 1,400 rooms of this unusual museum space, designed by popes and constantly enriched over the centuries, would take an eternity. Therefore accept from the outset that you won't be able to see everything, and that you can always re-visit Rome another time.
But don't run through all fourteen galleries just to get to the usual tourist goal: the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's ceiling. Spend some time with the other treasures along the way: the Apollo Belvedere and the statue of Laocoön and His Sons in the majestic octagonal courtyard; the Raphael Rooms, filled with the virtuoso's master paintings; and the Pinacoteca Vaticana, where the paintings of Caravaggio hang next to those of Titian, Giotto, Fra Angelico, and Veronese.
Such splendours will inevitably plunge you into a contemplative state, which will constantly grow as you discover Saint Peter's Basilica, the cradle of Catholicism, built upon the stone slabs of Saint Peter's tomb. Under the huge dome painted by Michelangelo, or Bernini's stunning baldachin, you will experience a sublime feeling, one that approaches the divine.
Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica
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