Vatican Museum: highlights

My third day in Rome I was finally able to venture out of the hotel room for my first day of sightseeing. I decided to tackle the Vatican Museum.

Vatican City is so interesting to me.  There is literally a tall, brick wall build around it that separates Vatican City (its own “city-state”) from Rome. And just behind that wall is this insane historic, religious legacy. Not to mention an entire “town” – complete with its own post office (which I read refuses to send Rome-stamped mail).

I headed to the museum entrance, and luckily there was no line – a good thing since I didn’t make a reservation. Needless to say the Vatican Museum is massive. But here are some highlights, according to me:

  • Pio-Clementine Museum: There are so many sculptures in this area of the museum. There are literally hallways and gardens just packed with white sculptures, all right next to one another. Even though I’m not a huge sculpture fan, it was impressive, and there are some cool mythical-themed sculptures.
Goddess Bastet
  • The Egyptian Collection (of course): some of my favorites pieces included black cat statues (goddess Bastet) and stone statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet.
Goddess Sekhmet
  • Modern Religious Art: I’m not usually a fan of “modern” art, but there are actually some nice works here from the past century or so. I was surprised to even see religious-themed art by Van Gogh and Gaugin here.
  • Sistine Chapel a.k.a the Pope’s chapel: thanks to my handy guidebook, I could actually follow what the paintings on the ceiling represent (Genesis scenes down the middle, prophets and Old Testament scenes on the periphery).
  • Pinacoteca: this collection of paintings includes works by Leonardo and Raphael.
  • Gift Shop: oh, come on, it’s the Vatican – you gotta buy something! I recommend a rosary; there are plenty of beautiful choices.

After many detours, I finally found the exit – apparently the Vatican Museum really doesn’t want you to leave! Although several signs promised I was nearing the exit, there was always one last exhibit, or gift shop, or cafe I had to get through.

I also made a (deliberate) attempt to the Vatican City’s official post office to send out a couple of postcards that would be officially postmarked, “Vatican City.”


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