mellor-online.co.uk/rome october 2008
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Vatican City Panarama

Rome - October 2008

A visit to Rome would not be complete without a visit to the Vatican City. A city within a city, it is the smallest nation in the world, with a population of around 550 citizens, headed by the Pope.

If Pope Benedict XVI is in Rome, he gives an audience on Wednesday mornings. If you want to take the blessing, you must book your free ticket in advance. May and I went to see but not take part. People from all nations attend, and the Pope speaks to each group, at length, in their own language.

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Saint Peter's Basilica
Saint Peter's Basilica
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The Vatican City is dominated by Saint Peter's Basilica, it was built on a huge scale, with Michelangelo's dome spanning 138 feet (42m). You can take a lift up to the base of the dome, where you walk round the inside of the dome, here you can get a close look of the mosaics which go all the way round the inner walls. But you will need to climb the remaining 330 stairs between the inner and outer skins of the dome to reach the lantern at the top. Anybody who has seen the film' Angels and Demons' will be familiar with this view of Saint Peter's Square with Rome spreading out in the background.
 
Mosaic in Saint Peter's Basilica
Mosaic in Saint Peter's Basilica
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Saint Peter's Square

A visit to the Vatican City is not complete without a visit to the Sistine Chapel. Its ceiling is probably one of the most famous works of art in the world. To find the Sistine Chapel you must first go out round the outside of the Vatican City walls, to the entrance of the Vatican City Museum. Then you have a long and confusing walk through many galleries, and finally through a tiny doorway ,then WOW, nothing really prepares you for such a sight.

I was surprised that there are other frescoes by other masters, such as Botticelli, but it is Michelangelo's ceiling that you just can't help looking at.

Photography is not allowed anywhere inside the Vatican City buildings, but I did sneak one off by putting my camera on the floor, and setting it on self timer, and no flash. The detail below of the 'Creation of Adam' is borrowed from Archive material, so I can't take credit for it.

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Sistine Chapel Ceiling
Detail of 'The Creation of Adam'
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