Travel Destinations

Monday, April 29, 2013

Vatican Gardens, Walking in the Footsteps of the Popes

Monument to Saint Peter
Monument to Saint Peter, Vatican Gardens
The majority of visitors to Rome visit St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.  But Vatican City contains another attraction fewer travelers visit, the Vatican Gardens.  The Vatican Gardens should be on your must-see list.

Vatican Gardens
One of the Vatican Garden Paths
The gardens can only be visited by reserving a ticket for a guided tour in advance.  They consist of 44 hectares of buildings, formal gardens, fountains, and winding paths.  The gardens have been in existence since 1279.  It truly is surreal to be walking on the same paths popes have walked for centuries and to be behind the scenes of the Vatican the rest of the world sees.

The tour is led by one of the Vatican guides.  We had a wonderful guide who explained he was from a family of Vatican tour guides, as was his wife.  One of their grandfathers worked as a Vatican guide during World War II when the Vatican train station was bombed.  He was proud of the fact they helped Jews take asylum in the Vatican during the Holocaust.  It was enlightening to realize being a Vatican guide is not just a job, but almost a birthright, and a matter of pride and identity.

Fountain of the Eagle
Fountain of the Eagle
Fountain of the Eagle
The tour proceeds out of and behind the museums.  The first stop is the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a beautiful building headed by a pool with fountains and statues.  From this area you can see the outside of the Sistine Chapel.  The next stop is the Fountain of the Eagle, a huge fountain of caves with figures in the pond, dragons spitting water, and a large eagle perched on top.  Behind this fountain is the Mater Ecclesiae.  Nearby is the Monument to Saint Peter, the geographical center of Vatican City.  The tour continues upwards to the highest point of the gardens at the Lourdes Grotto, the beautiful French Garden, the American Garden, and a newly popular spot, to the chagrin of some Italians, the Vatican Heliport, made famous by Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons.

St. John's Tower
St. John's Tower
The tour continues along the ancient Leonine Wall and past St. John’s Tower, a medieval tower now reserved for important guests.  There is also a view of the Vatican’s own radio transmission center.  The tour ends after passing the box hedged Italian Garden.


Italian Garden
Italian Garden
Tickets can be purchased on the Vatican Museums website up to 60 days before the date of the intended visit. Vatican Garden tickets include entry to the museums.

Vatican Museums Line
A visual reminder to buy Vatican tickets online.
You do not want to be in this line.
Travel the World:  Touring the Vatican Gardens, one of the lesser known things to do in Vatican City Italy.

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Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.

4 comments:

  1. Excellent post, I've always wanted to visit these gardens, thanks for sharing them.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Noel! The gardens truly are beautiful and I feel lucky to have visited them.

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  2. good post. i never knew it existed.
    my post
    larkycanuck.com | Travel Adventures | Italy | When in Rome do as I do!
    http://larkycanuck.com/2012/12/11/when-in-rome-do-as-i-do/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Abi. You should check them out the next time you visit.

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