We left busy Rome to visit even more crowded Vatican on Sunday morning and as a result we have now been waiting queening behind what seems like endless line of people. It was rather difficult to judge how long before we are able to hide in cooler parts of the enormous complex of Vatican Museum, since we could not spot the entrance from where we stood. The day was beautifully warm and I started wondering if waiting with my back stacked to the high walls of Vatican was the best we could do today. From one side I was in an adventures mood, from the other I really wanted to be somewhere less crowded. I do wonder now if my approach towards traveling was on its changing route then, when instead of trying to tick all the boxes in the guide, which was marking its presence as a bulk in Marcin’s backpack, I want to get lost in the middle of nowhere…
It took us 2 hours of queuing to get to the main entrance and be able to get through the gates and further inside the Vatican Museum. Now, you might ask – was it worth the wait? Was it worth getting sun burns and being desperate for the toilet after drinking too much water? Was it worth being squashed by others before and after getting through the entrance? Was it worth being a part in a constant flow of people pouring through the corridors, not being able to spend as much of your time as you wish in certain parts? Well, I could say – if you have been, judge for yourself, but if you have not then… YES, it was!
Apart from having Sistine Chapel – the life time achievement of Michelangelo, Vatican Museum is not short of anything really! Richly decorated ceilings and walls in the Gallery of Maps, vast number of objects of art from around the world, amazing collection of ancient sculptures, undoubtedly the richest collection of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Bellini, Raphael, Caravaggio and Titan and galleries hosting Egyptian and Etruscan ancient art – all this available along 7 km long corridors, beautifully decorated and being an art in themselves, are making Vatican Museum the place art lovers simply cannot afford to miss.
I do not like crowded places and with its 6 million visitors per year Vatican Museum is a crowded place for sure, but in this case I just simply did not mind at all.
Our thanks for Vatican Museum existence should go to the Pope – Julius II – who opened the museum in XVI century. During the centuries Catholic Church was supporting its existence adding new items to the growing collection. Apart from lavishly decorated rooms and galleries of the Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano, there are country yards, with stunning gardens and surprising additions.
One of the highlights in my humble opinion are the spiral stairs, designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932. They are very wide and beautifully decorated, allows all visitors to leave the museum comfortable and quick. Fascinating solution of double helix lets people to descent and ascent at the same time, without meeting each other.
Getting lost between corridors, going outside for a splash of sun and getting back inside for more art was a good way to spend a day exploring not so small part of Vatican City. As every last Sunday of the month the museum is free to explore, I would highly recommend visiting. And please, give yourself as much time for wander as you can, indulge in the beauties of the world created by the most amazing artists.