I didn’t have much time to collect myself after my Roman ruins tour, because we still wanted to visit St. Peter’s before it closed. But we agreed that we should not be climbing that enormous dome – enough stairs already!
We headed to St. Peter’s around 6 p.m., when the sun was slowly beginning its descent (but it was still crazy hot). Ok, it was also a Rick Steves recommendation to go at that time to beat the crowds and get some nice beams of light through the church windows. To his credit, there was no line and the light was amazing.
The entire plaza in front of St. Peter’s is beautiful – there must be 100 statues of I’m guessing saints surrounding the plaza – how do you even take all of that in?
The humongous church was awesome. My highlights:
- Holy Door: the Vatican literally cements this door closed and the Pope walks through it only once every 25 years. The next Jubilee Year is 2025.
- Michelangelo’s Pieta: a beautiful sculpture, but what a shame that it’s behind bulletproof glass, which prevents you from getting a great look at the details in person.
- St. Peter statue with his kissable toe: although I didn’t see anyone actually kiss it.
- Bernini’s dove window: it had this beautiful golden starburst coming out of a golden stained-glass window with a dove. The sun was shining through it and it was breathtaking.
- Monument to Pope Alexander VII: another great work by Bernini (I’m starting to like this guy) that features a big flowing sculpture, with a creepy but cool skeleton peeking out from below.
- Pope John Paul XXII tomb: speaking of creepy, there were actually two popes’ tombs – each featured a gray, very lifelike statue of the pope, laying in a glass box, wearing a red robe. Too realistic-looking!