Thursday, June 28, 2007

Monday Afternoon: The Vatican Museum

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After the catacombs, we headed toward the Vatican. There were people everywhere. The Vatican Museum averages 17,000 visitors a day – and they close at 3:30!! It was crazy!

Fortunately, I had read about this and found a way around it – to book a guided tour in advance. This way, we got to skip to the front of the line to clear security. The sun was beating down, so it was great to avoid the line baking outside. But, almost unbelievably, the museum does not have any air conditioning.

Anyway, our guide led us through some of the highlights of the museum for about 1.5-2 hours, then left us at the Sistine Chapel, through which we then went into St Peter’s Basilica. I put together a 10-minute video of all this that you can view below.

As for the photos, the middle one is the porphyry sarcophagus of St Helen, the mother of St Constantine.

The bottom photo is from the Hall of Maps.

In all, I believe our guide said there are 7 km of exhibits! I did not get to see the manuscript collection, which I was interested in. This is held in the nearby Vatican Library, and – I was told – that I would need to file a written request in advance and have some scholarly purpose for the visit. Maybe I can invent one if we ever go back! ( ;

Check out the video:

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