Sunday, July 31, 2011

When in Rome, do visit the Vatican City

When in Rome, do visit the Vatican City

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 AT 03:48 PM (IST)
Tags: Spice,   travel,   Rome,   Vatican City,   church,   Roman Catholic,   Camil Parkhe
Camil Parkhe tells how he was awed by the size and historical significance of the Vatican City

We got down from the tram in a central part of Rome and were told, “There, that is the entrance of the Vatican City!”  My wife, daughter and I found ourselves being pulled in that direction, filled with awe and anticipation. A visit to Rome and the Vatican is a dream tour for any Roman Catholic, or for that matter, even to those interested in art, sculpture, architecture and other faculties.
After crossing the entrance having huge pillars, the visitor is suddenly feasted to a magnificent sight — the famous St Peter’s Square! It is a huge oval place, accommodating thousands of pilgrims when the pontiff appears in a balcony of St Peter’s Basilica to deliver his weekly address on Sunday morning or on religious feasts. We saw hundreds of tourists alighting from coaches and equipped with cameras heading towards St Peter’s Square.
In front of the impressive huge facade of the basilica are tall statues of St Peter and St Paul. Statues of other apostles and saints are located on top portion of the facade. On the right side of the basilica is the papal residence. It is here that the pope meets dignitaries from all over the world in his capacity as the head  of the Catholic Church and also as the head of the sovereign Vatican state. The basilica is built over the tomb of St Peter and the first pope’s successors are also buried in this shrine.
Significantly,  the Vatican City is the smallest nation in the world with an approximate area of 110 acres and the number of its citizens is less than 800. Most of these citizens are the cardinals, other clergies and nuns posted at the Vatican and the elite Swiss guards — the youths from Switzerland who, in keeping with the 500-year-old old tradition, volunteer to guard the pope and the Vatican.
Due to its small size, the Vatican City has no public transport like buses or taxis. The only vehicles one sees moving in this sovereign state are of the Vatican officials and employees, most of whom reside  in Rome.
I entered the basilica and stood bewitched looking at the first sculpture in the first chapel on the right side of the basilica. It was La Pieta, Michaelangelo’s masterpiece depicting grief-stricken Mary holding the corpse of her son, Jesus. It was a  great experience watching the world’s one of the most acclaimed and valuable marble sculptures.
One is overwhelmed by the dome of the basilica, an important skyline of Rome. For those well versed in Catholic Church history or researchers in various faculties, hours are not sufficient observing the sculptures, architecture and other objects in this basilica, perhaps the largest church in the world. 

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